MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said it was careful about labeling Friday's twin blasts in Sulu as a suicide bombing, saying it hopes to prevent copycat attacks.
"We are trying to avoid other Filipinos of being inspired by this action. Remember, there hasn't been an incident of suicide bombing by a Filipino in our country thus far. We do not want them to be inspired by this act," Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson of the AFP, said in an interview on ANC.
The twin blasts last Friday near a military camp in Indanan, Sulu killed at least 8 people, including the two suspects, and left 12 others wounded.
"We are yet to determine with certainty whether this is an act of suicide bombing, although there is a high likelihood that this is suicide bombing. We haven't concluded our investigation," said Arevalo.
One of the suspects in the blast was identified as 23-year-old Norman Lasuca, who is said to be a Filipino. The identity of the alleged suicide bomber will be verified through a DNA test.
The other suspect was said to be Caucasian, initial reports showed.
"We are dependent on the result of the DNA testing. We have to be very careful in making pronouncements whether or not this is an incident of a suicide bombing, and second, [if] it's a Filipino suicide bomber," he said.
The AFP spokesperson added that what's obvious was that the two individuals were part of a desperate attack against the military and civilians in the area.
The first suspect attempted to enter the camp's gate when the bomb went off, authorities said. His companion ran into an outpost and attempted to get close to the tents of soldiers who fired at him.
The military beefed up security in the area after the attacks.
"One of the measures we are vigorously pursuing is the conduct of engagement and lectures preventing and countering violent extremism," he said.
He also assured Sulu residents that the AFP is on top of the situation.
"The Armed Forces of the Philippines is determined to crush the Abu Sayyaf Group and the menace they bring in Sulu, Basilan and other parts of the country," he said.
In January this year, twin blasts hit a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu during Mass, leaving 20 dead, including soldiers.
Authorities tagged the incident as a suicide attack by two Indonesian bombers who used local guides from the Abu Sayyaf group.