Two blasts hit southern Philippine town, at least nine dead

bomb blast

Two explosions rocked a southern Philippine town on Monday, killing at least nine people and injuring 16 others, officials, the military and police said.

The first blast happened around noon (0400 GMT) in front of a public plaza along a main street in Jolo town in Sulu province, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila, a military report said.

“Initial investigation disclosed that said explosion came from a … motorcycle rigged with [an improvised explosive device],” the report said.

It added that five soldiers and four civilians were killed in the blast, which also injured 16 soldiers.A second blast occurred about one hour later in front of a bank in a nearby street while security forces were still processing the site of the first incident, a police report said.

“The police explosive ordnance disposal [unit] immediately proceeded to the area to sweep for possible further explosive devices,” the report said.

Sulu is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, which has been blamed for some of the worst terrorist attacks in the Philippines, as well as kidnappings for ransom and beheadings.

The blast occurred more than on week after a top Abu Sayyaf militant was turned over to police after seeking the help of a Muslim leader to get medical attention for an injury he suffered last year.

Anduljihad Susukan led Abu Sayyaf militants in the kidnappings of hostages from the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo Island, including a Malaysian citizen beheaded in 2015.

He also helped finance the kidnapping of two Canadian men from a resort in the southern Philippines in 2015. The two Canadians were separately beheaded in April and June 2016.

The Abu Sayyaf is the most violent Islamist militant group in the Philippines and has been blamed for some of the worst terrorist attacks in the country.

The group has allied itself with the Islamic State terrorist organization, which has claimed responsibility for several bombings in the Philippines.

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