Daughter of Jolo church bombers could be behind fresh twin blasts: analyst

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 25 2020 08:55 AM | Updated as of Aug 25 2020 08:59 AM

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MANILA -- One of 2 deadly explosions that ripped through Jolo, Sulu on Monday could have been carried out by the daughter of 2 Indonesian suicide bombers that attacked a church there last year, a security analyst said Tuesday.

Authorities had been hunting down female suicide bombers in the area before the twin blasts that killed 14 people in Jolo's town plaza on Monday, said Rommel Banlaoi, director of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research.

"Isa sa pinaghihinalaan po natin na female suicide bombers na puwedeng magsagawa ng ganyang klaseng pag-atake sa Jolo ay iyong anak ng Indonesian na responsible rin sa Jolo cathedral suicide bombing," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(One of the female suicide bombers we suspect could carry out that kind of attack is the daughter of the Indonesians responsible for the Jolo cathedral suicide bombing.)

The January 2019 attack on the Mount Carmel Cathedral killed at least 20 people. It was blamed on a group linked to Abu Sayyaf.

Investigators are still looking into the identity of the woman who blew herself up on Monday while authorities were cordoning off the site of the first blast in the Jolo town plaza, Lt. Col. Ronaldo Mateo of the military's 11th Infantry Division told ANC.

The Abu Sayyaf, whose leader Anduljihad "Idang" Susukan was arrested last week, is the prime suspect in the twin blasts, authorities earlier said.

Investigators have yet to find a link between the attack and policemen's fatal shooting of 4 soldiers who were tailing 2 Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers in Jolo last June, a military official said Tuesday.

Listed by the US as a terrorist organization, Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of Islamic militants blamed for the Philippines' worst terror attacks as well as kidnappings of foreign tourists and Christian missionaries. They also have ties to Islamic State militants seeking to set up a caliphate in Southeast Asia.
 
Monday's double bombing struck as the Philippines struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

"Sa gitna po ng pandemya ay hindi humihinto ang mga teroristang grupo sa buong mundo na magsagawa ng kanilang operation," said Banlaoi. "They are in fact exploiting the situation to mount violent attacks."

(Terrorist groups across the world have not stopped their operations during the pandemic.)

President Rodrigo Duterte in June approved a new anti-terrorism law that allows the detention of terror suspects for up to 24 days without charge.

Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque condemned the "dastardly attacks" and issued condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed.

"We call on the residents of Jolo to stay vigilant and report suspicious personalities and unattended items in their areas," Roque said.

The Philippine Coast Guard issued a "red alert" for Sulu and several other areas in the restive south as it assists the military and police in responding to the incident. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse