BREAKING NEWS: Nine dead in bomb blast in southern Philippines

At least five soldiers and four civilians have been killed, and several others were wounded after two explosions struck the southern Philippine town of Jolo, according to authorities.

Philippine Red Cross Chief Richard Gordon said the explosion hit at approximately noon (04:00 GMT) on Monday in the capital of Sulu, one of the country’s southernmost provinces.

Gordon, who is also a senator, said that a motorcycle loaded with improvised explosive device went off near a military truck. The Red Cross office in Jolo is located near the blast area.

As police were cordoning off the site, a second blast hit injuring several government forces.

According to reports, at least 17 government troops were also injured in the two explosions.

The blasts happened not far from the site of a major explosion that killed more than 20 people inside a Catholic church in early 2019, according to state-run PTV channel.

Images posted by PTV on social media on Monday showed debris and bodies lying on a street next to a military vehicle.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

In a statement, Philippine police chief Gen Archie Francisco Gamboa said he has ordered an investigation into the deadly incident, adding that all perpetrators should be held accountable for the crime.

Sulu is known as the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Group, an armed group that has allied itself with ISIL (ISIS).

Abu Sayyaf has long been battling for independence in the southern region of Mindanao, which they regard as their ancestral homeland dating back to the pre-Spanish colonial period.

The group is notorious for kidnappings, robberies and deadly bombings.

In June, four soldiers were killed in Jolo following an alleged confrontation with police officers, igniting tensions between the two government forces.

The soldiers were reportedly pursuing suspected armed fighters, when they were stopped by police leading to the deadly incident.

Al Jazeera

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