Twin explosions rock Jolo, casualties feared
Explosions rock restive Jolo, Sulu
MANILA – Both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police confirmed the explosion that took place shortly before midday in the heart of Jolo, Sulu.
Major General Edgard Arevalo, Commander of the AFP Education, Training and Doctrine Command and AFP Spokesperson said they and the other law enforcement agencies are still looking into the details of the incident through post blast investigation.
“Our troops are on the ground and are evacuating and extending treatment for the casualties while securing the area,” General Arevalo said in a statement. He added the 11th Infantry Division and the Joint Task Force Sulu have been placed on high alert following the incident.
The AFP advised the general public to remain calm but vigilant and report suspicious persons or items and unusual activities in the area.
Meanwhile, Brig. General Bernard M. Banac. PNP spokesperson said Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa ordered PNP Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police commander General Manuel Abu to secure the area and speed up their investigation and arrest people responsible for the incident.
In his statement, General Banac said the explosion took place at 11:53 A.M. Two explosion occurred near Paradise Food at Barangay Walled in Jolo, Sulu and at the opposite side of the road.
Police operatives were reported to have evacuated the casualties while maintaining the safety of town residents for possible additional explosions.
The exact number of victims, their identities and their conditions have not been established as of this writing.
Certain areas in Western Mindanao have been described as hotbed for extremists.
Professor Rommel Banlaoi, a security expert, said the use of improvised explosive device is a signature of of the Abu Sayyaf Group which may have reacted to the arrest of Abduljihad Indang Susukan. Susukan is acknowledged one of the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group involved in kidnap-for-ransom activities and other illegal activities.
Independent sources said there were fatalities and serious injuries from the twin bombings.
It will be recalled the Abu Sayyaf was blamed for the Jolo Cathedral bombing last January 27, 2019 where 20 people died while 102 others suffered non-fatal injuries. (Melo M. Acuña)