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Philippines to Continue with Asian Summits, Despite Bombings

Philippine authorities say the country will go ahead as planned with a meeting of Asian leaders, despite deadly bombings in the south.

Authorities gave assurances today (Thursday) for the safety of officials attending summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and East Asian leaders. The meetings begin Sunday on the central island of Cebu.

The head of the summit organizing committee (Ambassador Marciano Paynor) told VOA that Wednesday's bombings on restive Mindanao island were not linked to the meetings. Mindanao is about 350 kilometers south of Cebu.

The attacks killed seven people and wounded at least 20 others.

Police say the bombings appear to be related to business disputes, but investigations are under way to see if they are linked to terrorist groups.

A number of Islamist militant groups operate in the southern Philippines. In addition, authorities say the Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah has been training with Philippine militants in Mindanao.

The summit organizer says the violence only underscores the need for greater security cooperation among Asian nations. The 10 ASEAN members are expected to sign a counter-terrorism pact during the summit.

ASEAN officials also say six members and Australia will hold talks in Jakarta later this year on how to better fight terrorism in the region.