MANILA: Soldiers in the southern Philippines foiled what the army said was an attempted suicide bombing in an urban area, the latest in a series of attacks blamed on a group aligned with the Islamic State (IS) group.
Troops manning a checkpoint on the island of Jolo engaged in a short gunfight with three men on a motorcycle late on Tuesday afternoon, the military said.
The attackers were killed and bomb vests, a handgun, a grenade and detonators were seized.
The intended target was an urban area of Jolo, the island’s capital, and two of the men were Egyptian, the regional armed forces command said in a statement yesterday.
The other man was Filipino and a member of Abu Sayyaf, a group that has pledged allegiance to IS and is notorious for piracy and kidnapping foreigners.
The incident would have been the fifth attempted suicide bombing in the southern Philippines in the past 16 months.
Such attacks were previously unheard of despite decades of separatist unrest and lawlessness.
It also marked a sinister turn in the Philippines’ fight to contain militant groups inspired by IS
who have been joined by fighters from Malaysia and Indonesia, including in a brazen attack and five-month occupation of Marawi City in 2017.
The suicide attacks were all in the Sulu archipelago, Abu Sayyaf’s stronghold, and were all claimed by IS. — Reuters