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Bomb Attacks Rock Southern Philippines Before ASEAN Summit

Three bombs exploded in the southern Philippines Wednesday, killing at least six and wounding dozens of others ahead of a meeting of leaders from 16 Asian countries.

Philippine officials say the attacks do not pose a threat to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, which begins Saturday on the central island of Cebu. Presidents and prime ministers from six other countries will join those from the 10 Southeast Asian nations at that summit.

Wednesday, police say the first bomb blast went off in front of a lottery ticket store in the city of General Santos on southern Mindanao island. It ripped across a public market, killing at least six people and wounding 22 others.

Hours later, a second blast went off just meters away from a police station in Kindawapan city on Mindanao, wounding two people. After that, a third explosion, also in Mindanao in nearby Cotabato city wounded two others.

The government of President Gloria Arroyo has been working to assure regional neighbors that the Philippines is safe, as it prepares to host the ASEAN summit later this week.

ASEAN meetings were postponed last month amid warnings of a terrorist attack. Western countries warned before this week's meeting that Islamic militants might carry out attacks during the upcoming summit.

The troubled southern Philippines is home to a long-standing rebellion of Muslim and communist insurgents.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.