Manila: Suspected Islamic militants set off bombs Monday in the southern Philippine town of Jolo in Sulu province. The blasts led to killing of at least 14 soldiers and civilians. The Islamic militants managed to set off the bombs despite extra tight security. The suicide attacks were carried out by militants with closeness to the Islamic State (IS), officials said. Nearly 75 persons including soldiers, police and civilians were wounded in the attacks, military and police officials said.
Regional military commander Lt Gen Corleto Vinluan said at least five soldiers and four civilians were killed in the first attack. It happened when a bomb attached to a motorcycle exploded at noon near two parked army trucks. The army tricks were standing in front of a grocery store and a computer shop.
“It was a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device which exploded while our soldiers were on a marketing run,” Vinluan told reporters.
A second blast nearby, apparently from a female suicide attacker, occurred about an hour later. The blast killed the bomber and a soldier and wounded several others, a military report said. It said the suspected bomber walked out of a snack shop, approached soldiers who were securing a Roman Catholic cathedral and ‘suddenly blew herself up’.
Snipers were deployed in the area to guard against more bombers as the victims were carried to an ambulance.
Military spokesman Lt Col Ronald Mateo said a seventh soldier was also killed in the bombings but did not provide further details. A third unexploded bomb was reportedly found in a public market. Jolo was immediately placed in a security lockdown by troops and police.
The bombings were the deadliest attack in the Philippines this year. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque condemned the bombings ‘in the strongest possible terms’. Initial pictures seen by this agency showed soldiers carrying a man from the scene of the explosion near an army truck while another victim lay on the road. The wreckage of a motorcycle and body parts were seen on the road.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. However, the military blamed an Abu Sayyaf militant commander, Mundi Sawadjaan.