Jolo death toll climbs to 15, excluding suicide bombers

(Photos from Philippine Army)
(Photos from Philippine Army)

ONE of the soldiers wounded in the latest attacks in Jolo, Sulu has died, raising the death toll from the explosions to 15, excluding the suspected suicide bombers.

The 15 fatalities included eight soldiers, one Special Action Force (SAF) policeman and six civilians.

The Philippine Army (PA) on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, identified the fatalities as Private Juvienjay Emlani, Staff Sergeant Manuelito Oria, Staff Sergeant Louie Cuarteros, Private Omair Muksan, Private John Rey Paller, Private James Apolinario, Private John Agustin and Private Auib Sahid.

Agustin was from the 35th Infantry Battalion while the rest were from the 21st Infantry Battalion.

PA Chief Cirilito Sobejana said burial assistance, command financial assistance and special financial assistance will be provided to the bereaved families of the victims.

The families are also entitled to receive capital, health, educational, and shelter assistance, among others.

“The Philippine Army grieves over the death of these men. We honor their sacrifice in serving our country and protecting the people of Jolo, Sulu,” Sobejana said.

“To the bereaved families of our troops, we extend our deepest condolences. Rest assured that the Army is here to help you and is ready to extend the necessary assistance,” he added.

The lone fatality from SAF was identified earlier as Senior Master Sergeant Joe Michael Langbis.

The six civilian fatalities have yet to be identified.

They were among the 15 killed in the explosions that rocked Barangay Walled City in Jolo, Sulu on August 24.

Seventy-four other soldiers, policemen and civilians were wounded.

The explosions, which were believed to have been carried out by two suicide bombers from the Abu Sayyaf Group, occurred about 100 meters apart at 11:50 a.m. and 1 p.m. on August 24.

Authorities earlier believed the first explosion came from a parked motorcycle.

Police investigators, however, dismissed this theory because the motorcycle was merely gutted, instead of torn apart, by the explosion.

Police are now looking at suicide bombers, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had suspected.

Sobejana identified the suicide bombers as Nanah and Inda Nay, the widows of Norman Lasuca, the first Filipino suicide bomber, and Abu Talha or Talha Jumsah, a bomb expert, respectively.

Read: Police dismiss motorcycle bomb, eye suicide bombers

Meanwhile, Western Mindanao Command Chief Corleto Vinluan Jr., visited some of the 21 wounded soldiers in Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City on Tuesday afternoon, August 25.

Vinluan conferred the medal of wounded personnel to Sergeant Norman Santiago, Corporals Jesus Genora and Jeric Gil Villaruz, Privates First Class Jay Carbon and Jeffrey Domingo and Private Rocelo Abacial Jr.

AFP Chief of Staff Gilbert Gapay condemned the attack and vowed to exact justice.

“No sensible religion or ideology would ever endorse these hapless attacks. We extend our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims. Rest assured that their sacrifices will not be in vain,” he said.

Gapay said the troops on the ground continued to be on high alert to deter similar attacks while combat and intelligence operations were ramped up to pursue those responsible for it.

He urged the public to be calm, vigilant, and do their share in keeping their communities safe by cooperating with authorities.


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