THE Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu said on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, that two suicide bombers may have been involved in the latest attack in Jolo, Sulu.
Brigadier General William Gonzales, JTF Sulu commander, said they have acquired closed circuit television (CCTV) footage that showed a suicide bomber may have also caused the first explosion.
The alleged bomber could not be identified, however, because the body was torn into pieces.
Authorities earlier said a female suicide bomber had caused the second explosion.
Gonzales said: “Based on the CCTV footage, the first explosion may have been a case of suicide bombing also. We have not identified the body because it was torn into pieces. In the second explosion, we were able to identify the perpetrator as a woman.”
The two explosions killed 15 people, including seven soldiers, a Special Action Force (SAF) policeman and six civilians. A total of 75 people were wounded.
The first occurred at 11:50 a.m. in front of a grocery store where the soldiers were procuring supplies while the second followed at 1 p.m. around 100 meters away from the site of the first blast.
Authorities earlier said the first blast came from an improvised explosive device planted in a motorcycle parked in front of the grocery store.
A female suicide bomber set off the second explosion while she was being accosted by a soldier.
Philippine Army Chief Cirilito Sobejana said they were monitoring two female suicide bombers who might have caused the explosions.
Following the two suicide bombing incidents, the Central Command (Centcom) urged the public to be vigilant and look out for any suspicious individuals.
Centcom is asking the public’s help to report any suspicious activity to the nearest police station.
According to Army Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, commander of the 3rd Civil Relation Group in Centcom, the military, with the help of police from the Visayas region, is keeping an eye out for any activity from terrorist groups in Mindanao.
“We still urge everyone to be vigilant because this is a shared responsibility, people should also be alert and we constantly remind the public that any suspicious individual or situation should be reported,” said Martinez.
In light of the recent tragedy, Centcom assured the public that the Visayas region is safe from terrorist attacks for now.
Martinez said the Naval Forces Central, the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Coastguard are watching the waters and monitoring who comes in and out of the region.
The region was put on red alert status five months ago since the lockdown was implemented due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Martinez clarified that they have not received any direct threats from terrorist groups aside from the New People’s Army, which the military has been pursuing in Negros island and other parts of the Visayas region.
However, he believes that this is no reason so be complacent as any place, no matter how peaceful, can still be a target of a terrorist attack at any time. (SunStar Philippines / AYB / CBQ)