MANILA - The United Nations strongly denounced the twin explosions that rocked Jolo, Sulu on Monday, killing 15 people and wounding dozens of others in what maybe this year's deadliest attack in the country.
The UN Information Center in Manila said in a statement that "attacks against civilians are always unacceptable" and called on "perpetrators to be held accountable." It also condoled with the affected families of the victims.
According to Lt. Col. Ronaldo Mateo of the Army's 11th Infantry Division, the first blast happened in front of a food shop at Serantes Street, Barangay Walled City in Plaza Rizal. A parked motorcycle exploded near an M35 vehicle of the military, resulting in "numerous casualties," the Jolo Police said in its official report.
"Initially, it's an IED (improvised explosive device) planted in a motorbike," said Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command.
As authorities cordoned off the area, a second explosion hit minutes later in front of a bank, just about 100 meters away from the first blast, said Vinluan, and 10 to 15 meters away from the Jolo Municipal Police station, according to ABS-CBN reporter Nickee Butlangan.
"The second explosion happened on the other street. It was strong," Butlangan said in vernacular.
The second blast turned out was an attack by a female suicide bomber who blew herself up in the process using an IED.
At least 7 soldiers, 6 civilians, and a policeman were killed, while 75 were injured.
Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez also condemned the attacks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and expressed his condolences to the families affected by the blasts.
"No one deserves such a painful and violent death, especially in the hands of individuals whose only aim is to sow fear, hatred and terror," he said in a statement.
"While we are fighting to overcome the challenges spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic, these heartless perpetrators continue to carry out such brutal, soulless acts."
Galvez, a former Philippine military chief, assured the perpetrators of the blasts will be caught and held accountable.
Malacañang earlier denounced the explosions and called on Jolo residents to remain vigilant and report suspicious persons and unattended items in their areas.