Suicide bombing suspected in Philippine attack

Special Suicide bombing suspected in Philippine attack
Mourners ride on a hearse during the funeral procession of a victim killed in the January 27 cathedral bombing in Jolo, Sulu province on the southern Philippines. (AFP / NICKEE BUTLANGAN)
Updated 01 February 2019

Suicide bombing suspected in Philippine attack

Suicide bombing suspected in Philippine attack
  • Investigators have recovered body parts at the site of the January 27 blast
  • Philippine defense chief Lorenzana earlier said one of the survivors had reported seeing a woman four seats in front leave behind a package

MANILA: Body parts thought to belong to suicide bombers who attacked a cathedral in the southern Philippines have been recovered at the scene, officials said Thursday.

The twin bombings on Jan. 27 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral on Jolo island killed 21 people and injured more than 100.

“The possibility of a suicide bomber is there. All angles and possibilities are being considered in the course of the investigation,” Col. Noel Detoyato, from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), told Arab News.

The human remains were believed to belong to two people, although Detoyato added it was hard to discern gender or nationality because they were “shredded” beyond recognition. 

Some of the body parts were recovered from the church and at the road around 50 meters away.

“If you look at it, it’s like two sets, (they don’t) belong to the same person.”

He explained there was no way to piece together the body parts so was unable to say if they belonged to the bombers.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said one of the survivors had reported seeing a woman four seats in front leave behind a package.

Detoyato said the woman may have met up with the other bomber at the church entrance.

“But we can only surmise, based on the body parts ... (it seems) the bodies were really very close to the explosive,” he added.

Lorenzana said there would be a DNA test to see if the body parts belonged to a foreigner or local.

It would be “alarming” if the suicide bombing was carried out by a local, he said, adding: “No Filipino would do that … unless Filipino militants have become so fanatical that they would blow themselves up.”

The military has been pursuing the militant Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). 

It is believed to be involved in the Jolo attack through its Ajang-Ajang faction, according to AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr.

President Rodrigo Duterte visited the attack site on Monday and ordered the military to crush the ASG. 

One militant died in a subsequent army assault while another, named Kamah, escaped.

Kamah, a known bombmaker and brother of a slain senior ASG figure, was part of a group seen in CCTV footage running away from the cathedral’s vicinity moments after the explosion.

There were airstrikes on ASG positions in the towns of Patikul and Indanan, in Sulu province, and the military clashed with ASG-Ajang Ajang faction members on Thursday.