MANILA: Twin blasts, including a suicide bombing, killed 15 people and wounded 75 others on a restive southern Philippine island on Monday (Aug 24), among them security forces and civilians.
The bombs went off within an hour of each other in the main town on Jolo island, a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic State-linked group that has intensified its campaign in recent years through the use of suicide bombers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for what was the biggest attack of its kind in the southern Philippines since January 2019, when a double suicide bombing at a Jolo church killed more than 20 people and wounded over 100.
The military said the first blast happened around noon on Monday, when a homemade bomb in a motorcycle was triggered close to two parked army trucks, killing soldiers and civilians.
As police and army surveyed the scene, a suicide bomber tried to breach a cordon and detonated her device, killing herself and several others.
In total, eight members of the security forces, six civilians and the bomber were killed and 27 security personnel and 48 civilians were wounded in the attacks on Jolo, one of a chain of mainly Muslim islands in the southwest of the majority Roman Catholic country.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the explosion incidents in Jolo," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
"Authorities are now conducting an investigation, which includes identifying individuals or groups behind these dastardly attacks."
The troops were among hundreds from a special infantry division created by President Rodrigo Duterte to destroy Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for banditry, piracy and kidnap-for-ransom and countless attacks on civilian and military targets.
Abu Sayyaf was founded in the 1990s with its roots in a separatist cause that it long since abandoned. It is active in the Sulu archipelago of Mindanao, where hundreds of soldiers have been deployed to try to destroy the group, which has been linked to Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
The group's various factions have grabbed headlines, most recently for suicide bombings, but also for banditry, piracy and kidnap for ransom, for which it has become notorious for beheading captives, among them westerners.