MANILA - A female “Caucasian-looking” suicide bomber carried out the attack at a military checkpoint in Indanan town, Sulu on Sunday, the military said on Monday.
The woman was first spotted by troops walking from Kilometer-4 of the road leading to the Indanan town proper, according to Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Armed Forces' Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom).
Government forces said her behavior was suspiciously slow and seemingly agitated, leading troops to stop her when she reached the checkpoint in Kilometer-3.
The soldier on duty ordered her to stop, but she continued walking slowly, Sobejana said. This was when the troops noticed the bulge of the bomb underneath her clothes.
The soldier shouted to the rest of the forces that there was a suicide bomber, prompting them to fall flat on the ground.
Sobejana said the woman was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” before the explosion.
Recovered at the blast site were body parts that confirmed she was a woman, according to Sobejana. He earlier said the remains will undergo a DNA test to check her identity.
A triggering device was also recovered, which troops said she was holding in her hands at the time of the blast.
Security analyst Rommel Banlaoi claimed the bomber’s name was “Abays,” but Sobejana quickly corrected him, saying the bomber was wearing an “abaya,” or Muslim women’s clothing, when she conducted the bombing.
He said her actual identity has yet to be determined, but the military is certain that she belongs to the faction of Abu Sayyaf leader Hajan Sawadjaan, who is known for coddling foreign terrorists.
Sobejana said there are 7 verified and identified foreign terrorists in Western and Central Mindanao.
Authorities are also checking 60 more foreigners for terror links but they have yet to determine whether the female suicide bomber was on this list.
This incident is the fourth suicide bombing in the Philippines since 2018. The first was perpetrated by a Moroccan national, who detonated his vehicle at a checkpoint in Lamitan, Basilan, killing 10.
This was followed by the Jolo Cathedral bombing, where 2 foreign terrorists detonated simultaneous blasts that killed 22 churchgoers and responders in January.
The third occurred in June, when 2 males detonated bombs near the gate of the 1st Brigade combat team in Indanan town, killing 8.