Some 18 months later, Jolo is reeling from more attacks. The first bomb exploded around 11 am, near the highly populated public area of Plaza Rizal Park. Most of the victims, including children, were killed and wounded in the first attack, when a bomb attached to a motorcycle exploded near two parked army trucks in front of a grocery store and computer shop in Jolo.
The second blast, apparently from a female suicide bomber, occurred about two hours later around 1:20 pm. A military report said the suspected bomber walked out of a snack shop, approached soldiers who were securing a Roman Catholic cathedral and “suddenly blew herself up.”A third unexploded bomb was reportedly found in a public market. Right now, more bombs are assumed to be planted around the area; authorities are searching the sites.
Reportedly, Muslim extremists are behind the attacks though so far no group has claimed responsibility. Philippine military officials say Muslim militants allied with ISIS set off the bombs. Jolo, capital of the Sulu province, is one of a chain of mainly Muslim islands in the southwest of the majority-Roman Catholic country. It is a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf extremist group, which has affiliations to ISIS and is blacklisted by the United States and the Philippines as a terrorist group for past bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings.
The bombings come as the Filipino government grapples with what is now the highest number of coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.