FIVE suspects in the deadly Jolo Cathedral bombing which killed 23 people and wounded 95 others last January 27 surrendered to authorities over the weekend, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde announced yesterday.
The PNP chief said they have already established that the bombing was the handiwork of a male and a female “suicide bombers,” both believed to be Indonesian nationals who detonated powerful improvised explosive devices one after the other.
“I am pleased to announce the surrender over the weekend of Kammah L. Pae alias ‘Kamah’ and four other persons who performed individual roles in that incident. The five surrendered due to the massive hot pursuit operations by troops from the Patikul Municipal Police Station, 52nd Special Action Company, Sulu Provincial Mobile Force Company, 14th Regional Mobile Force Battalion, CIDG 9, RIU9, and 35th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army,” the PNP chief said.
The house of Kamah yielded assembled improvised explosive device and IED components when searched by PNP explosives and ordnance disposal experts and a SOCO forensic team from the PNP Crime Laboratory.
Albayalde said that apart from Kamah, the others who yielded were Albani Kisae Gadjali alias “Awag,” Rajan Bakil Gadjali alias “Radjan,” Kaisar Bakil Gadjali alias “Isal” and Salit Alih alias “Papong.”
All suspects are now under the custody of the Special Investigation Task Group created to probe the cathedral bombing.
The PNP chief said that the suspects will be charged with multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder before the Sulu Provincial Prosecutor’s Office .
Albayalde described the five suspects as belonging to a group of 22 Abu Sayyaf personalities led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan that are believed to have conspired to launch the attack at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral.
Fourteen more suspects, including Sawadjaan, remain at-large and are being hunted.
SUICIDE BOMBERS BEHIND CATHEDRAL BLAST—ALBAYALDE
All indications point to the involvement of two Indonesian suicide bombers in the Jolo Cathedral bombing, according to Albayalde.
“Witnesses said that the two suspects were not speaking the native Tausug dialect. Instead, they were heard speaking Malay-Indonesian,” the PNP chief said.
Citing information from their sources and witnesses, Albayalde said that the male Asian appears to have been staying in Mindanao for a year already while the female suspect just arrived in Mindanao a few days before the bombing.
President Rodrigo Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año have all revealed that the suicide bombers were Indonesian nationals.
“We believe that suicide bombing is part of their job,” Albayalde said.
The PNP chief said that it is believed that the female Asian detonated the first improvised explosive device inside the Jolo Cathedral around 8:28 a.m. on January 27 while the male suspect detonated the second bomb at the Church’s entrance seconds later.
SPARE CIVILIANS FROM ATTACKS – PRC
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) urged conflicting parties to always abide by the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), stressing civilians should be spared from any attacks.
The PRC said non-combatants and civilians should be protected during times of conflict. Places of worship like mosques and churches are non-military objectives and should enjoy protection from any attacks.
With Zaida delos Reyes and Arlene Rivera