Double explosions rock Philippines, killing at least 14, 75 left injured

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Twin explosions have ripped through a town in a restive region of the southern Philippines, killing at least 14 people and wounding 75.

Military officials said two bombs went off within an hour of each other in Jolo, Sulu province, on Monday.

They suspect the bombings were carried out by militant Islamists linked to the Abu Sayyaf group.

A spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte condemned the attacks, the worst the country has seen this year.

“Authorities are now conducting an investigation, which includes identifying individuals or groups behind these dastardly attacks,” Harry Roque said.

No-one has yet taken responsibility for the explosions. But the southern Philippines have seen a surge in Islamist militancy in recent years and has a long history of separatist violence.

Abu Sayyaf is one of the smallest and most violent jihadist groups in the southern Philippines, known for its kidnap-for-ransom activity and its brutality, including beheadings.

Listed by the US as a terrorist organisation, the group has pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State, and has carried out kidnappings of both foreigners and Filipinos.

Monday’s bombings come after the arrest earlier this month of an Abu Sayyaf leader on the southern island of Mindanao.

Security forces had been on alert for possible reprisal attacks.

How did the bombings unfold?

The military said the first explosion happened at around midday (05:00 GMT) on a busy street in Jolo, the capital of Sulu.

Lt-Gen Corleto Vinluan said an improvised explosive device attached to a motorcycle went off near a military truck outside a supermarket.

As police and soldiers descended on the scene, a second blast erupted on the same street at short time later.

“A female suicide bomber detonated herself as a soldier stopped her from entering the cordoned area,” Lt-Col Ronaldo Mateo, an army spokesman, told local media.

Eight members of the security forces and six civilians were killed, while 27 security personnel and 48 civilians were wounded in the explosions, reports say. The bomber also died.

The mayor of Jolo locked down the town after the blasts and the Philippine Coast Guard issued a “red alert” for Sulu and several other areas nearby.

The blasts happened not far from the site of a suicide bomb attack that killed more than 20 people at a Catholic cathedral in January 2019. Authorities blamed a group linked to Abu Sayyaf.

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