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Philippines: Deadly double bomb attacks hit island

August 24, 2020

Twin explosions in the Philippines have killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens. Reports said the first bomb had been attached to a motorcycle.

Volunteers attend to an injured man after two explosions
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo

Two bombs exploded in a southern Philippines town on Monday, military and police sources said. The blasts killed at least 14 people and injured dozens more.

The first bomb detonated at around noon local time along a main street in the town of Jolo in Sulu province, around 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) south of Manila.

At least five soldiers and four civilians were killed, regional military commander Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan said. Initial army reports said the source of the first blast was a homemade bomb on a parked motorcycle.

The explosion damaged a food and computer store as well as two army trucks, military spokesman Rex Payot and police said.

The second blast, carried out by a female suicide attacker, went off nearby shortly after the first explosion.

"A female suicide bomber detonated herself as a soldier stopped her from entering the cordoned area," Lieutenant Colonel Ronaldo Mateo, an army spokesman told Manila radio station DZMM.

The bomber and a soldier were killed and several bystanders were injured.

Read more: Duterte's four years in power — extrajudicial killings, rights abuses and terror

A third, unexploded bomb was reportedly found in a public market. The combined explosions killed seven soldiers, six civilians and one police officer and injured 75 individuals, according to figures from the Sulu provincial government's information office.

troopers secure an area after two explosions struck the town of Jolo
Troopers secure an area after the twin explosions in JoloImage: picture alliance/AP Photo

The attacks are suspected to have been masterminded by Mundi Sawadjaan, a bomb expert with the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, according to regional military commander Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan.

Unstable region

Jolo, the main town on Jolo island, is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf militants, who has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

The military is in the midst of a months-long offensive against the group, one of the most violent terrorist organizations in the Philippines. In past years, Abu Sayyaf was behind several bombings, kidnappings, and beheadings there. 

Read more: Philippine anti-terrorism law triggers fear of massive rights abuses

More recently, military offensives and surrendering have caused the armed group’s numbers to dwindle down to a few hundred in recent years. 

Just two weeks ago, key commander Abduljihad Susukan was turned over to Philippine authorities after seeking medical attention for an injury sustained last year.

kp/rt (AP, dpa, Reuters)