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Army chief tags 2 female suicide bombers, bares links to June 29 killing of Army intel officers

DAVAO CITY  – Philippine Army Chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana confirmed that the twin blasts that hit Jolo, Sulu on Monday were carried out by two female suicide bombers, who slain Army intelligence officers have been tracking since June.

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

“The two bombings were carried out by two female suicide bombers, who we were targeting last June 29,” disclosed Sobejana.

READ MORE: 15 killed, 77 hurt in two Jolo bomb blasts

Sobejana was referring to a June 29 incident, also in Jolo, wherein Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel manning a checkpoints shot and killed four Army intelligence assets in what appeared to be a misencounter

READ MORE: Sulu cops kill 4 military officers on a mission to locate ASG suicide bombers

He was then the chief of the Western Mindanao Command covering the Western Mindanao region including island the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi when the killing of the Army intelligence officers happened. 

The Manila Bulletin sources had earlier disclosed that the alleged female suicide bombers behind the blast were the terrorists being tracked by Major Marvin Indamog and his team under the Army Intelligence Regiment (AIR).

The twin blasts in downtown Jolo left at least 15 killed and 76 others wounded. Of the 15 killed, seven of them were government soldiers and police officer.

Sobejana clarified earlier reports that the first blast shortly before 12 noon was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) believed to be rigged in a motorcycle.

But based on initial investigation,  Sobejana said that it so happened that the suicide bomber blew herself within the proximity of the parked motorcycle around.

He added that the second suspected bomber blew herself  up as a soldier tried to stop her from getting closer to the first blast site an hour later.

Sobejana further disclosed that one of the female suicide bombers was the widow of first alleged suicide bomber identified as Norman Lasuca, who perpetrated an attack in Indandan, Sulu in June 28, 2019.

While the other alleged female suicide bomber, according to the Army chief, was a native of Sulu and widow of another Abu Sayyaf terrorist identified as Abu Talha, who was killed in a firefight with the military in November last year.

Intel gap

Following the killing of the Army intelligence officers, Sobejana admitted that the military lost track of the terrorists adding that there was indeed an “intel gap”.

“Nakakapanghinayang nga pagkamatay nina Indamog kasi project kasi nila ito. We have invested so much on this project.  Medyo matagal din nila itong sinubaybayan,” the Army chief lamented.

The killing of Indamog and his men on June 29 were not just a big loss to the military, but to the government’s  campaign against terrorism as well.

Indamog, along with Captain Irwin Managuelod, Sergeant Jaime Velasco, and Corporal Abdal Asula were in downtown Jolo doing signal intelligence work when they were flagged down by local police at a checkpoint.

Sources said that Indamog and his men was onboard an SUV when they drove about 50 meters past the checkpoint, where they were supposed to talk to the police officers to avoid being “burned out” in the checkpoint.

Police claimed that a firefight subsequently ensued as the soldiers were reportedly armed when they  disembarked from their vehicles.  

Then Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, now Armed Forces of the Philippines chief, decried the incident, saying that it was murder.

Manila Bulletin sources disclosed that intelligence officers had been in the downtown area for a few days already, monitoring the movement of the terrorists under the leadership of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader  Mundi Sawadjaan, nephew of Hajan.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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