PNP still sifting through pieces of evidence at Jolo blast sites

Published August 25, 2020, 5:28 PM

by Keith Bacongco

DAVAO CITY – The police in Sulu has still to determine if the twin blasts in Jolo last Monday were indeed the handiwork of suicide bombers.

Military personnel stretcher away some of the victims after an improvised bomb exploded next to a military vehicle in the town of Jolo on Sulu island on August 24, 2020. (Photo by Nickee BUTLANGAN / AFP)

This was disclosed by the spokesperson of the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) who said that investigators were still processing the pieces of evidence gathered at the blast scenes.

READ MORE: Female suicide bombers triggered Jolo blasts; martial law eyed in Sulu

According to P/Lt. Col. Conrad Gutierrez, the SITG was considering all the methods that could have been used in the terrorist attack.

“Based on our initial investigation, the reports still vary. Some say the bombs were rigged on a motorcycle, the bomb could have been left and some also said that it was a suicide attack. It’s not yet conclusive, so we could not exactly say yet as of this time,” he told The Manila Bulletin in a phone interview.

Earlier, Philippine Army Chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana confirmed that the twin blasts were carried out by two female suicide bombers.

“The two bombings were carried out by two female suicide bombers whom we were targeting last June 29,” disclosed Sobejana, who was then the chief of the Western Mindanao Command covering the Western Mindanao Region including the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

Sobejana was referring to the killing of four Army intelligence operatives in an alleged misencounter with Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel also in Jolo on June 29.  

Gutiérrez also clarified the figure of the casualties in the blast, saying that based on their records, 14 were killed and 72 others wounded.  
Of those killed, seven were soldiers, six civilians and a police officer, he said.

As to the figures of the wounded, the police officer said 18 were soldiers, six police officers and 48 civilians.

He could not say how many were critically injured but added that some of them have been airlifted to Zamboanga City for further medical attention. “I cannot say if how many of them are soldiers or civilians but there are two from the police,” said Gutierrez.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez said that downtown Jolo has been placed in lockdown following the blast. 

He added the police has intensified its police visibility in almost every corner to secure the area. “It’s quite strict here right now because we are implementing  heightened security measures at the same time we are also imposing strict measures against COVID-19 (coronavirus disease).”