2020 Jolo bombings

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2020 Jolo bombings
Part of the Moro conflict
Jolo, Sulu is located in Philippines
Jolo, Sulu
Jolo, Sulu
Location of Jolo in the Philippines
LocationJolo, Sulu, Philippines
Coordinates06°03′12″N 121°00′03″E / 6.05333°N 121.00083°E / 6.05333; 121.00083Coordinates: 06°03′12″N 121°00′03″E / 6.05333°N 121.00083°E / 6.05333; 121.00083
DateAugust 24, 2020 (2020-08-24)
11:54–12:57 PhST (UTC+08:00)
Attack type
  • Bombing
  • Suicide bombing
Deaths15 (including one perpetrator)
PerpetratorsAbu Sayyaf (also known as Islamic State – East Asia Province)

The 2020 Jolo bombings occurred on August 24, 2020, when insurgents alleged to be jihadists from the Abu Sayyaf group detonated two bombs in Jolo, Sulu, Philippines, killing 14 people and wounding 75 others.[1] The first occurred as Philippine Army personnel were assisting in carrying out COVID-19 humanitarian efforts.[2] The second, a suicide bombing, was carried out near the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral.[3]


For over three decades, the Abu Sayyaf has been launching terrorist attacks in support of making the province of Sulu independent from the Philippines, as part of the Moro conflict. Sulu is primarily Muslim, whereas the Philippines as a whole is primarily Christian. In 2004, the Abu Sayyaf launched the worst terrorist attack in Filipino history, bombing a ferry which killed 116 people. In 2016, they pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. They are known for using improvised explosive devices and for kidnapping foreigners for ransom, especially within Sulu province.[4]

In August 2020, some days prior to the bombing, the Philippine government arrested a number of militants belonging to the Abu Sayyaf organization. Security forces on Sulu were on high alert due to fears of retribution.[2][5][6][7]


On August 24, 2020, at 11:54 am, a motorcycle bomb placed next to a military truck detonated outside the Paradise Food Plaza in downtown Jolo, Sulu. The explosion killed six soldiers, six civilians and a police officer, as well as injuring 69 others. The police and military responded to the scene. An hour later, at 12:57 pm, a female suicide bomber approached the cordoned-off area and attempted to enter. Upon being stopped by a soldier, she detonated the bomb she carried, killing herself and the soldier who stopped her, while wounding six police officers.[8] The second blast occurred approximately 100 meters (110 yd) away from the first blast, in front of a branch of the Development Bank of the Philippines.[8] In total, seven soldiers, one police officer, and six civilians were killed; and 21 soldiers, six police officers, and 48 civilians were wounded. The site of the bombing was close to the site of the 2019 Jolo Cathedral bombings.[5][6][7][8]


The following day, the Islamic State – East Asia Province (also known as Abu Sayyaf) claimed responsibility for the attack. The government believes that Abu Sayyaf bombmaker Mundi Sawadjaan created the bombs and armed the attackers. The entire municipality of Sulu was placed on lockdown following the blasts.[7][8][9]

On August 29, 2020, in Patikul, soldiers searching for the perpetrators of the bombings were attacked by fellow Abu Sayyaf militants. The gunfight resulted in the death of a Filipino soldier and the wounding of seven others; two Abu Sayyaf militants also died in the fight.[10]

June shootings[edit]

On June 29, nearly two months before the bombings, four Army intelligence personnel, by-then investigating the possible presence of two female suicide bombers in Sulu province, were killed by Jolo police officers in a shooting incident, with policemen attempted to plant evidence to cover-up the incident.[11][12] As the bombing happened in the midst of the investigation of the shooting, the military stated the incident have disrupted the intelligence operations that might have averted the bombings, and raised a possible motive that the police officers are connected with the suicide bombers.[13][14][15]


Immediately after the attacks, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque condemned the bombings saying "authorities are now conducting an investigation, which includes identifying individuals or groups behind these dastardly attacks."[16] Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles condemned the attacks in "the strongest possible terms" and said that terrorism has "no place in a civilized world".[17] He also stated that he will bring justice to those behind the "inhuman attack".[17] According to Dr. Rommel C. Banlaoi, a counter-terrorism expert and the Chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, the 2020 Jolo bombings were strong indications that suicide terrorism had become the new face of terror in the Philippines.[18] Even prior to the 2020 Jolo bombings, Dr. Banlaoi has already explained, "The rise of suicide terrorism in the Philippines arises from the contagious effect of the ideology of violent extremism propagated by ISIS foreign terrorist fighters in the country. ISIS foreign terrorist fighters capitalize on local grievances, historical animosities, and feeling of injustices to propagate violent extremism in the Philippines, particularly in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao. Violent extremism is the ideology that justifies acts of terrorism in the Philippines."[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Petty, Martin; (ed.) Davies, Ed; (ed.) Richardson, Alex (August 24, 2020). "Twin bombings kill 15, wound scores in Philippine south". Reuters. Retrieved August 24, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b "14 killed in Jolo twin bombings in southern Philippines". Al Jazeera English. August 24, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  3. ^ Gutierrez, Jason (August 24, 2020). "Two Explosions Rip Through Philippines, Killing at Least 14". The New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  4. ^ "Philippines unrest: Who are the Abu Sayyaf group?". BBC World News. BBC. October 16, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Philippines: Twin explosions hit Jolo, killing at least 14". BBC News. BBC. August 24, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Two Explosions Rip Through Philippines, Killing at Least 14". NY Times. August 24, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Lacuata, Rose Carmelle (August 24, 2020). "Philippine military eyes Abu Sayyaf as responsible for twin Jolo bombing". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d Andrade, Jeanette I.; Alipala, Julie S. (August 25, 2020). "Abu Sayyaf leader hunted after 2 blasts rock Jolo". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  9. ^ Maitem, Jeoffrey (August 25, 2020). "IS militants claim responsibility for Sulu blasts". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  10. ^ Scout ranger, 2 ASG bandits killed in Patikul encounter
  11. ^ "Four soldiers dead in Jolo 'shooting' incident with PNP". CNN Philippines. June 29, 2020. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  12. ^ "AFP accuses PNP of cover-up in Jolo shooting". Rappler. August 19, 2020. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  13. ^ "Sulu cops connected with suicide bombers? Military official cites possible motive on Jolo shooting". Philippine Daily Inquirer. September 1, 2020. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  14. ^ "Missed opportunity? AFP says Jolo blasts could have been averted if June police shooting did not happen". CNN Philippines. August 25, 2020. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  15. ^ "Jolo suicide bomber subject of 4 slain soldiers' intel mission – sources". Rappler. August 24, 2020. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  16. ^ "Philippines: Twin explosions hit Jolo, killing at least 14". BBC News. August 24, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  17. ^ a b Kabiling, Genalyn (August 24, 2020). "Gov't vows to hold bombing perpetrators accountable". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  18. ^ "Suicide terrorism is the new face of terrorism in the Philippines". GMA News. August 29, 2020. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  19. ^ Banlaoi, Rommel. "Philippines: Threats Of Violent Extremism And Terrorism Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic – Analysis". Eurasia Review. Eurasia Review. Retrieved August 10, 2020.