ARMED Forces investigators are looking for four teenagers who are believed to have carried out the deadly bomb attack at the Jolo Cathedral in Sulu last Sunday morning killing 21 people and injuring over 100 others.
The images of the four young men were released by the AFP Western Mindanao Command through video-grab of the CCTV footages in and around the bombing site.
The CCTV footages showed the four teenagers entering the cathedral and leaving the place one after another shortly before the mass started at 8 in the morning. Minutes after they left, the powerful improvised explosive device went off, apparently triggered by a cell phone call.
AFP Westmincom spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Besana said the footage also showed three of the suspects standing in the middle of the street and possibly in the act of detonating the second IED which killed five responding soldiers.
One of the men in the footage was identified only as alias “Kamah,” said to be a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group-affiliated “Ajang-Ajang Group.” The suspect who was wearing a blue-green jacket was handing something to a second companion before fleeing on foot after the explosions.
Officials called on Jolo residents to help them fully identify the teenagers and their location. The bombing has angered President Duterte who ordered a complete lockdown of Jolo.
NO SUICIDE BOMBING?
PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said they are yet to establish if the bombing was the handiwork of suicide bombers although investigators are still in the process of identifying two of the 20 victims whose bodies were badly mangled as a result of the blast inside the cathedral.
“Wala pa pong confirmation kung talagang suicide bomber ‘yan. Halos lahat na ng fatalities, meron lang isa o dalawang hindi ma-identify na pira-pirasong katawan. ‘Yun na po ang tinitignan dito,” he said.
The PNP chief also said it is very premature to say that the two unidentified fatalities could be suicide bombers unless there will be hard evidence gathered by the police and the military.
As of yesterday, PNP spokesman, Senior Superintendent Bernard M. Banac said all indicators point to the bomb being an IED. However, the official said police are checking the identities of the persons of interest in the CCTV footage.
“Hindi tayo magbabase lamang sa kung anong larawan o CCTV. Maaaring makagawa tayo ng initial na analysis pero sa police investigation kasi kailangan tayong magbase sa solid na ebidensya. Tayo naman sa pulis ay nangangalap pa rin ng matibay na ebidensya, kailangan nating mapalakas ang kaso at makakuha tayo ng direct witnesses,” Banac said.
Banac also said that the investigation is still underway to determine how the suspects managed to slip past the tight military cordon in the area.
The PNP spokesperson said it appears that the Jolo Cathedral bombing is not in anyway connected with the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) held just days earlier.
“Based on our investigation, there is no connection between the two. This thing that happened, the bombings, is just a clear and simple act of terrorism. It has nothing to do with the plebiscite,” he told ANC.