5 soldiers, 12 civilians killed, 57 wounded in Jolo blastsPosted on
DAVAO CITY (January 27) — Five soldiers, twelve civilians were killed while 57 were wounded when a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded inside Mt. Carmel Cathedral along Serantes Street, Walled Jolo, Sulu at about 8:45 this morning while the mass was ongoing.
The explosions triggered panic among the parishioners and civilians in the vicinity who scampered for safety.
Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Col. Gerry Bersana said of the 57 wounded, 42 are civilians, 14 soldiers and one member of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)
Sulu Provincial Police Office director Senior Superintendent Pablo Labra II said the IEDs exploded one after the other around 8:28 a.m. today.
While the authorities were responding to the explosion, another bomb went off at the parking area.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines in a statement denounced the attack.
The NDBC report revealed, Jolo Vicariate Administrator Fr. Romeo Saniel, OMI, president of Notre Dame of Jolo College (NDJC) told ndbcnews.com.ph the five soldiers belonged to 35th Infantry Battalion.
Six other soldiers from 35th IB and a civilian were also injured in the blast at the cathedral main gate.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorezana in a statement said “The Armed Forces of the Philippines has immediately secured the explosion area and transported the casualties to the nearest medical facilities, including the air evacuation of some victims to Zamboanga City for further medication and evaluation.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde has ordered the conduct of a “thorough investigation on this incident to ensure the immediate arrest of the suspects.”
The twin bombings took place two weeks before the plebiscite of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, Jolo is among the proposed Bangsamoro region.
Sulu province — which includes Jolo — voted against the creation of the new region, with its governor questioning the law establishing the area before the Supreme Court.
Lorenzana condemned the deadly bombing saying that the “full force of the law, We assure our people that we will use the full force of the law to bring to justice the perpetrators behind this incident.
The statement added, “As we convey our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of the victims, and offer our sympathy to the peace-loving people of Sulu who are severely affected by this dastardly act.
AFP Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. in a statement said “We strongly condemn this treachery and commiserate with the families of the victims, “
The police said no one has claimed responsibility for the twin blasts but authorities were initially looking at the Abu Sayyaf.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal also condemned the bombings. He said it “obvious” that whoever was responsible behind the explosions wanted to put “religious color” to the Bangsamoro plebiscite.
“Hard to tell who is responsible, but obviously it is to put religious color to the plebiscite. There are people who thrive on the suffering of [other] people,” Iqbal said.
He aded the MILF is monitoring the situation in Sulu and “will do everything to stop the forces of evil to succeed.”
Lorenzana said the government will use the “full force of the law” to bring those behind the incident to justice.
“We assure our people that we will use the full force of the law to bring to justice the perpetrators behind this incident,” he added
Madrigal said the AFP will work so that justice will be served “I strongly commit, with the help of relevant agencies of government, to pursue the criminals with the full force of the law to ensure that the victims of this injustice will be prosecuted and punished. “I call on the people for calm and sobriety as government security forces address this recent attack on the peaceful Joloanos.”
Abayalde in a statement stressed ‘We assure the bereaved family and their relatives that we will ensure that justice will be served in the soonest possible time,” the Philippine National Police said in a statement.
Lorenzana said while he encouraged the public to be “more vigilant and to cooperative with the authorities in reporting any security related concerns”, Lorenzana urged that everyone “remain calm” and that they should prevent from “spreading panic in our respective communities to deny terrorism any victory.”
–Editha Z. Caduayaand Mirasol Montesa-NewsLine.ph