Philippines: Twin explosions kill 10 people, wound soldiers

Jolo
In this photo provided by the Philippine Red Cross, troopers secure an area after explosions struck the town of Jolo, Sulu province southern Philippines on Monday Aug. 24, 2020.
Image Credit: AP

Manila: Twin explosions killed at least 10 people and wounded more than a dozen soldiers in a town on a restive island in the southern Philippines on Monday, media and a military source said.

One blast took place around noon and another followed about an hour later in Jolo, the main town on Jolo island, a militarised stonghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a militant group that has pledged allegiance to Daesh.

An initial military report said one of the blasts was cased by a homemade bomb on a motorcycle, said an army source, who could not be named because he was not authorised to speak to media. The source said 17 soldiers were wounded.

ABS-CBN news reported that the blasts took place in two separate locations, one of which was close to military vehicles.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

It was the biggest attack in the town since January 2019, when twin suicide bombings before Sunday service at a Jolo church killed more than 20 people and wounded at least 100.

A faction of Abu Sayyaf was blamed for that attack, which Philippine authorities said involved Indonesian bombers.

The first blast on Monday happened around noon in front of a food centre, outside of which two military trucks were parked, the army said. A second blast followed later, but there were no immediate reports of casualties from that incident.

That first bomb killed five soldiers and four civilians and 16 military personnel were among dozens wounded, said Lieutenant general Corleto Vinluan, head of the Western Mindanao command.

Lieutenant Colonel Ronaldo Mateo, a military spokesman, said the bomb was attached to a parked motorcycle.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility and police said an investigation was under way.

Abu Sayyaf was founded in the 1990s with its roots in a separatist cause that it long since abandoned. It is active in the Sulu archipelago of Mindanao, where hundreds of military have been deployed to try to destroy the group, which has been linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda.

The group’s various factions have grabbed headlines, most recently for suicide bombings, but also for banditry, piracy and kidnap for ransom, for which it has become notorious for beheading captives, among them westerners.

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