Suicide bomber eyed behind latest Jolo blasts

(Photo from Joint Task Force Sulu)
(Photo from Joint Task Force Sulu)

A FEMALE suicide bomber may have set off the latest twin explosions that shattered Jolo, Sulu and killed 11 persons on Monday, August 24, 2020, military officials said.

They also believed the attacks were in retaliation of the arrest of the Abu Sayyaf Group leader Anduljihad "Edang" Susukan.

The attacks were carried out less than two weeks after Susukan was “turned over” by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari to the police.

Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan, Western Mindanao Command chief, said the first explosion killed nine people - five soldiers and four civilians.

The second blast killed a soldier and the suspected suicide bomber.

At least 24 other soldiers and civilians, as well as some policemen, were wounded in the twin explosions.

Vinluan said the first improvised explosive device (IED) exploded around 11:50 a.m. in front of the Paradise Food Shop in Barangay Walled City. It was attached to a motorcycle parked in the area.

The second IED exploded at least 100 meters away from the first site. This time, the IED was allegedly carried by a female suicide bomber.

“Bale ‘yung IED nilagay sa motorcycle and then habang ‘yung mga sundalo natin nagma-marketing doon sa Jolo yun biglang sumabog,” Vinluan said.

“Meron (second explosion), parang sa likod lang mga 100 meters away sa likuran din parang may grocery din doon. Actually ano, ‘yung parang sinisita, may sinisita ‘yung isang sundalo bigla na lang sumabog,” he said.

(The IED was placed on a motorcycle. It exploded while our soldiers were buying essentials in Jolo. The second explosion happened around 100 meters away. A soldier seemed to have accosted somebody and then there was an explosion.)

Vinluan said they have yet to determine the nationality of the suicide bomber. They have established, however, that the bomber was female.

He said he strongly believed that the Abu Sayyaf Group was behind the attack.

He said the troops were monitoring Mundi Sawadjaan, a suicide bomber who was the subject of the intelligence operation conducted by the four soldiers who were killed by policemen at a checkpoint in Jolo on July 29.

Vinluan said the latest attack could have been prevented had the four soldiers not been killed.

Vinluan said Sawadjaan was responsible for the Jolo Cathedral bombing in January 2019, which resulted in the killing of 23 people, mostly civilians, and the wounding of 109 others.

“Actually yun ‘yung sinusundan namin nung... kaya nga may namatay na apat na sundalo noon ‘di ba? Ang target nila ‘yung suicide bombers plus si Mundi Sawadjaan. Yun ang target natin noon na hindi naituloy dahil nga sa nangyari,” said Vinluan.

He said based on their monitoring, the group was planning to stage twin suicide bombings, but set these aside after learning that the military was aware of the plan.

Lieutenant Colonel Ronaldo Mateo, 11th Infantry Division spokesperson, said it was possible that the attack was a form of retaliation by the terrorist group.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said troops on the ground were evacuating and treating the casualties while securing the area.

He said the 11th Infantry Division and the Joint Task Force Sulu went on high alert following the incident.

“We advise the public to stay calm but be vigilant to monitor and report any suspicious persons or items or unusual activities in the area,” said Arevalo.

If confirmed as a case of suicide bombing, this would be the third suicide bombing incident in the country.

The first incident involved a couple who blew themselves up inside the Jolo Cathedral on January 27, 2019.

On June 28, 2019, two alleged suicide bombers attacked a military command post in Indanan, also in Sulu. (SunStar Philippines)


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