Among those killed in the attack in Davao City was an American
Baptist missionary, William P. Hyde, 59, who had lived and worked in
the Philippines since 1978.
He had come to the airport to meet Barbara Wallis Stevens, 33,
and her family, who were arriving from the capital, Manila. Mrs.
Stevens, her 10-month-old son, Nathan, and her daughter, Sarah, were
With her husband, Mark, who was not injured, Mrs. Stevens has
worked in the Philippines as a Baptist missionary since 2000.
"I just heard it explode to my side," she said in a telephone
interview with The Associated Press. "I was carrying my infant son
so I grabbed my daughter and picked her up and ran away."
Mr. Hyde was a former music teacher who lived here with his wife,
Lyn Gage Hyde, and their two children, said Bill Bangham, a member
of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board based in
"Our hearts go out to these families and their coworkers," Larry
Cox, a spokesman for the board, said in a statement. "We are moving
quickly to assist the missionaries affected by this tragedy."
The Baptists say they have 5,441 missionaries stationed around
the world and claim to have converted 395,000 people to Christianity
in 2001 alone.
Most of Mindanao's 18 million people, like most of the 76 million
in the country, are Christian. There are also 5 million Muslims in
Mindanao. Rebel groups have been fighting there for 25 years for a
separate Muslim homeland.
The Philippine military recently opened a new offensive against
the largest of these groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and
it has blamed the group for a series of recent bombings. A spokesman
for the rebels, speaking to a radio station, denied responsibility
for today's attack.
So far, no other group has claimed responsibility for the
United States troops are now in Mindanao on a training mission
but they are based in Zamboanga, 220 miles west of Davao. In recent
months there have been bomb attacks in Zamboanga as well.
In a separate bombing today, a military spokesman said an
explosion in Tagum, an hour's drive northeast of Davao City, injured
two people. Also today the police said a town hall in Cotabato
Province, in central Mindanao, was destroyed by a rocket-propelled
grenade. A fuel tank maintained by the government's energy
department in another province was also attacked today.
Last month a car bomb exploded outside the airport terminal in
Cotabato City, killing one person.
During the past week a series of explosions has destroyed
electric towers in Mindanao, causing blackouts across much of the
The waiting area at the Davao airport is about 15 yards from the
main entrance. Security in the area has always been light and
visitors outside the main building are not checked.
"At the time that the bomb went off, it was raining and many
people were seeking refuge from the rain in the waiting shed," Abner
Mendador, a private pilot whose house is within the airport
compound, told reporters.
Terry Labado, an airport official, said: "It was a very, very
loud explosion. I saw bodies flying."
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (news
sites) had recently ordered the military to step up security in
"This is a brazen act of terrorism that will not go unpunished,"
she said in a statement late today. "The killing is a cowardly crime
not only against the Filipino people but against humanity