6 persons of interest in Jolo Cathedral bombing

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is looking at 6 persons of interest in the Jolo Cathedral bombing, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr said on Monday, January 28.

"Dalawang grupo. So far, anim, 6 of them," Esperon said in an interview with CNN Philippines. (There are two groups. So far, there are 6 [persons].)

Esperon did not name the two groups and declined to identify the 6 persons, saying he did not want to risk the ongoing investigation into the case.

On Sunday morning, an improvised explosive device (IED) went off inside the Jolo Cathedral in Sulu province as Mass was ongoing. A second IED detonated at the entrance of the church as government troopers came to rescue, killing some of the responders too. (WATCH: Inside the Jolo Cathedral after the blasts)

There's earlier intel: Esperon said the 6 were identified as persons of interest not just because they were supposedly seen in a CCTV footage, but because of intelligence that had been gathered by the government since August 2018.

"Information from what I understand is that we have leads not only from the CCTV but we also have leads because we have a previous report from the intelligence community as early as August last year," Esperon said in a mix of English and Filipino.

This is the same period just after the Basilan bombing, which killed 10 in Lamitan City. The military had identified the Abu Sayyaf Group to be behind the incident.

Esperon added, "In fact, some have been neutralized, but this group might be connected to our suspects now, the tentacles of the group in our past reports." – 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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