8 dead in suspected suicide bombing at Sulu military camp

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 29) — The death toll in the twin blasts at a military camp in Sulu province has risen to eight, authorities said Saturday.

Major Arvin Encinas, spokesperson of the military's Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom), told CNN Philippines among the dead were three soldiers, three civilians, and two suspected suicide bombers. At least 12 soldiers and 10 civilians were hurt, WesMinCom chief Major General Cirilito Sobejana said.

Twin explosions rocked the headquarters of the 1st Brigade Combat Team at Sitio Tanjung, Barangay Kajatian in Indanan town around noon Friday.

Authorities are investigating the attack, and are eyeing the involvement of the Abu Sayyaf group, which is notorious for bombings and kidnappings in the province.

An initial probe showed that one of the two suspected bombers detonated an explosive while being checked prior to entry at the military camp. The other suspect dashed inside, was shot, but was still able to detonate another explosive, Encinas said. He explained the camp was open for "civilian friends."

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Sobejana said that they are looking into the similarities with the Jolo cathedral blasts last January. 

"There was a similarity, only that the bombing five months ago at the Jolo cathedral, the first bomb exploded inside the cathedral itself and the succeeding was coming from outside. This time the first explosion happened just in front of the gate, and when the gate was opened another person broke through and the explosion took place at the middle of the camp," Sobejana said.

He added that the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used in both attacks were of the same kind.

"Other than we're looking at the same scenario, the signature IEDs were also the same," he said.

In a separate statement, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez strongly condemned the attack, but asked that judgment be withheld until the investigation is completed.

"Reports suggest that the two civilians who died in the attack were the possible perpetrators. However, let us all hold our judgment until the investigation being conducted by authorities is completed," Galvez said.

He added that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Unity and Reconciliation stand in solidarity with the people of Sulu.

Following the incident, Metro Manila police chief, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar placed the region under full alert at 6 p.m. on Friday as a preemptive move.