Government not sure if explosive devices planted to detonate or ‘merely frighten Christians’ during Christmas season
Policemen and soldiers are seen in front of a Catholic Church, where the bombing took place in Jolo, Sulu province on the southern island of Mindanao, on Jan. 27, 2019. (Photo: AFP)
Philippine military experts have disposed of three homemade bombs found on the premises of two Catholic churches in Jolo town, Sulu province in Mindanao region.
The bombs, suspected to have been planted by the terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, were spotted on Dec. 15 on the patio of San Roque and San Isidro parishes in Jolo town, which has been the target of suicide bombings in recent years.
The military experts were informed by policemen on patrol duty after an alert was sounded by the locals.
“Two of our ground policemen were informed of some cartons lying near the church door. We isolated the area and called bomb experts,” Police Colonel Raymond Durado told UCA News.
Durado said the bombs were packed in an identical manner inside cigarette cartons.
“They looked almost the same, the same tape was used, the same packaging, so it was obvious that they all came from the same source,” Durado added.
Bomb experts who defused the bombs said they carried the imprint of Abu Sayyaf operatives who have been behind several suicide bombings in the region.
The Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Council pointed a finger at Mundi Sawadjaan as the primary suspect.
“Sawadjaan is a unit leader and bomb maker of the Abu Sayyaf group operating in the Sulu province of southern Philippines. He was trained by the IS [Islamic State] and trains others in the Philippines,” Justice Secretary Jose Crispin Remulla told reporters on Dec. 15.
Remulla wasn’t sure though if the bombs were planted at the churches to detonate or “merely frighten Christians” who were about to celebrate the novena masses.
“Nevertheless, whoever made them will face the criminal consequences of their actions,” the justice secretary added.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo thanked the military and police for their prompt response.
“We thank our authorities for their swift action to make our people safe. Muslim or Christians, Christmas or Ramadan, violence and terrorism have no place in a civilized society… We are all brothers and sisters, we are all Filipinos,” Jolo Bishop Charlie Inzon told UCA News.
The prelate urged Catholics to serve as agents of peace, not just during the Christmas season but in their everyday lives.
Local Catholics were reminded of the two bombs that exploded at the Cathedral of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the same province killing 20 people and injuring 102 others on Jan. 27, 2019.
Later, in 2020, a male suicide bomber in a woman's attire had blown up near a police station killing seven civilians and injuring 22 others.
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