ZAMBOANGA, Philippines -- Police are looking into reports anti- Islamic remarks may have prompted the grenade attack at a cultural show that killed two people and injured 50, officials said Monday.
Police Maj. Emiliano Buyco said a member of the Good Books for All company based in Mosbach, Germany, was reported to have told Muslim students of Western Mindanao University here Friday that the 'Prophet Mohammad is a liar.'
Buyco said in his report to police headquarters in Manila that the remarks were uttered by a German missionary, one of some 300 volunteers from 30 countries aboard the 6,000-ton bookstore ship Doulos. The missionary, who was wounded in the attack, was unavailable for comment.
He said the remarks apparently angered Islamic fundamentalists in Zamboanga, headquarters of the southern command which has been battling a Muslim separatist insurgency for two decades in the largely Roman Catholic country.
A spokesman for the visiting inter-denominational group said 'no one on behalf of Doulos would say anything like that.'
University President Erdulfo Fernando also denied the report, saying no one from the group spoke except for the vessel's captain Pertti Merisola who thanked the school for awarding his people a plaque of appreciation.
A respected Muslim leader, Abdul Gani Yussof, denounced the attack as a 'dastardly act.'
Two women -- Sophia Sigfridson of Sweden and Karen Goldsworthy of New Zealand, both 19 -- were killed in the grenade blast on Saturday night at the Zamboanga port terminal, 550 miles south of Manila.
Fifty others, including 41 belonging to the staff of the Doulos, were wounded. Five of them were Americans identified as Brian Marrow Queen, Joseph Parker, Cynthia Smith, Joe Erken and Nathaniel Fawcett.
Previous bombings in Zamboanga have been blamed on the Muslim separatist Moro National Liberation Front.