2 bodies still unidentified days after Jolo Cathedral blasts

BLOODY SUNDAY. In this photo taken in Jolo on January 27, 2019, policemen and soldiers keep watch over body bags containing the remains of blast victims. Photo by Nickee Butlangan/AFP

BLOODY SUNDAY. In this photo taken in Jolo on January 27, 2019, policemen and soldiers keep watch over body bags containing the remains of blast victims.

Photo by Nickee Butlangan/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Two days after the Jolo Cathedral bombing that killed at least 23 and injured 109 people, authorities are still trying to pin down the identity of 2 fatalities.

According to the list of deaths kept by officials and obtained by Rappler, the remains of two "unidentified civilian[s]" are still kept in the Jolo Trauma Hospital. The list identified both of them as male.

They are the only two civilians brought to the Trauma Hospital, where all fatalities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines were placed. (READ: 6 children among wounded in Jolo Cathedral bombing)

The rest of the remains of other civilian casualties, as well as one from the Philippine Coast Guard, were brought to the Integrated Provincial Health Office-Sulu Provincial Hospital.

The death toll rose to 23 as of February 4.

The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the explosions that happened inside the church and at the entrance during Sunday Mass. On Monday, January 28, ISIS announced it had deployed two suicide bombers to mount the attacks.

Who are they?

In a text message to Rappler, Western Mindanao Command spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Besana said they are still "verifying everything."

But he said that the unidentified bodies do not necessarily bolster ISIS's claim of suicide bombing.

"How would you identify whose body almost evaporated? Can't it be a husband and wife who went together, both died and no relative knew they were there?" Besana said in a text message. 

UNIDENTIFIED. Two 'males' remain unidentified days after the bombing of the Jolo, Sulu Cathedral. Sourced photo

UNIDENTIFIED. Two 'males' remain unidentified days after the bombing of the Jolo, Sulu Cathedral.

Sourced photo

In a dzMM radio interview on Tuesday, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said that it has been difficult to identify the fatalities as some were "already torn to pieces." (WATCH: Inside the Jolo Cathedral after the blasts)

Philippine police and military authorities said the IEDs must have been detonated "electronically" and from a distance. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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