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Twin bombings on Philippine island of Jolo 'heinous': FM Balakrishnan

Twin bombings on Philippine island of Jolo 'heinous': FM Balakrishnan

Military personnel stretcher away some of the victims of the Jolo blasts. (Photo: AFP/Nickee Butlangan)

SINGAPORE: Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan on Friday (Aug 28) offered his condolences after two bomb blasts on a restive southern Philippine island killed at least 14 people, calling it a "heinous" act of violence on innocent civilians.

Dr Balakrishnan conveyed his condolences in a letter to Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin.

Monday's explosions on the southwest island of Jolo in Sulu province killed a mix of soldiers, police, civilians and wounded at least 75 people. It is the Philippines' deadliest attack since a double suicide bombing at a church in January 2019 left 20 people dead and wounded at least 100.

"I was saddened by the tragic loss of lives in the twin bombing attacks," said Dr Balakrishnan.

"Please accept my sincere condolences for the victims and their families. I wish those injured a speedy recovery," he added.

Military personnel and civilians stretcher away a soldier after an improvised bomb exploded next to a military vehicle in the town of Jolo on Sulu island on Aug 24, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Nickee Butlangan)

READ: Philippine army may seek martial law return after suicide attacks

In his letter, Dr Balakrishnan also said that Singapore strongly condemned this act of violence on innocent civilians, which is "particularly heinous" at a time when the world - including the Philippines - is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are confident that the Philippine authorities will be able to swiftly stabilise the situation in Jolo, and bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice," he said.

"Our thoughts are with the people of the Philippines during this difficult time."

Soldiers stretcher away a colleague injured in a bomb blast in Jolo on Sulu island in the Philippines. (Photo: AFP/Nickee Butlangan)

Monday's twin bombings went off within an hour of each other in the main town on Jolo, a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic State-linked group that has intensified its campaign in recent years through the use of suicide bombers.

Philippines' army chief said on Wednesday that two female suicide attackers who carried out the bombings were the widows of militants who had worked for Abu Sayyaf.

The military said the first blast, initially thought to be motorcycle bomb, happened around noon on Monday and went off 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.

No group has claimed responsibility for the country's deadliest attack this year, but the military pointed to Abu Sayyaf as the likely culprits.

Army chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana identified the female bombers as Nanah and Inda Nay.

Sobejana said Nanah was the wife of Norman Lasuca, who is considered the Philippines' first homegrown suicide bomber. He died in an attack outside a military camp on Jolo in June 2019, killing several soldiers and civilians.

Inda Nay was the wife of Talha Jumsah, who acted as liaison between Abu Sayyaf and the Islamic State militant group.

Source: CNA/agencies/aj

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