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Five Abu Sayyaf members surrender to Philippine church bombs



MANILA (Reuters) – A high-ranking representative of Abu Sayyaf and four members of the militant group believe that they are behind the deadly bomb attack on a church in the southern Philippines that surrendered to the authorities over the weekend, the police chief said on Monday with.

A member of the Philippine Army inspects the damage within a church after a bomb attack in Jolo, Sulu Province, Philippines, January 27, 2019. Armed Forces of the Philippines – West Mindanao Command / Handout on REUTERS

Kammah Pae, the authorities Believing that they supported an Indonesian couple in the January 27 suicide bombing campaign, they gave themselves to the government forces, said Oscar Albayalde.

"He had to surrender," Albayalde said in a press conference. "He probably did not want to die during the military offensive."

Filipino forces killed three alleged Abu Sayyaf fighters and died in a firefight on Saturday in Patikul, a town in Sulu province, when troops behind them were the church attack

Albayalde said Kammah refused to participate in the double bombing in the Jolo Cathedral, where 23 people, including civilians and soldiers, were killed. However, eyewitness accounts showed that he had accompanied the Indonesian couple.

The security forces also picked up an improvised explosive device (IED) and components from home, Albayalde added.

The five suspects are murdered several times, said Albayalde.

The investigation into the bombing of the church in Sulu, a well-known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf group, is "far from over," he added.

Abu Sayyaf is a militant organization notorious for abductions and extremist factions, and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

"There is more evidence that needs careful consideration," Albayalde said.

Before Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte suggested on Tuesday that the twin explosions might have been a suicide bombing, the military and police said the bombs inside and outside the church had apparently been detonated remotely.

A few days later, Duterte's Interior Minister Eduardo Ano said that a suicide attack was being perpetrated by an Indonesian couple with the help of Abu Sayyaf.

This would be equivalent to a claim by the Islamic State over its Amaq news agency early Monday.

Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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