Ferry bomb to Marawi siege: Philippines' worst attacks

At least 18 people were killed when two bombs hit a church on a southern Philippine island that is a stronghold of Islamist militants. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines has struggled for decades to end a Muslim separatist insurgency in its south, which has killed tens of thousands and left the region mired in poverty.

The latest bloodshed came on Sunday (Jan 27) when a double bombing at a Catholic church on the southern island of Jolo killed at least 18 people, including soldiers rushing to aid the wounded.

Here is a look at some of the nation's worst attacks:


On a holiday for the country's national hero, Jose Rizal, near-simultaneous bombings in December 2000 killed 22 people and injured more than 100 in Manila.

One explosion rocked a plaza across from the US embassy. Blasts also tore through a train, a passenger bus and a cargo handling facility at the international airport.


A February 2004 firebombing of a ferry in Manila Bay which killed 116 people is the country's deadliest terror attack.

The ship was engulfed in flames as it sailed out of Manila Bay with 899 people on board, with many rescued by small vessels in the area.

Notorious Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group, which is suspected in Sunday's church bombing, claimed it planted an explosive onboard.


At least 15 people were killed and scores more wounded in December 2004 when a bomb blast tore through a public market in General Santos, one of the biggest Christian majority cities in the south of the mainly Catholic Philippines.


Gunmen launched a raid that killed 11 people in February 2010, with many of the victims still sleeping when their homes were strafed by bullets and the buildings were later torched.

The violence in the town of Maluso on the southern island of Basilan was also blamed on the Abu Sayyaf.


A September 2016 bombing that ripped through a bustling night market in President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown left 15 dead, and was blamed on the Maute gang of Islamist militants that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

Authorities said the militants carried out the violence partly to raise its profile with ISIS.


Marawi, the nation's principal Islamic city, was besieged from May to October, 2017, by hundreds of heavily armed local and foreign gunmen who authorities said aimed to establish a South-east Asian base for ISIS.

Swathes of the southern city were destroyed in five months of house-to-house fighting between troops and the Islamists from the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups that killed nearly 1,200 people.

Though ultimately dislodged, the attackers were behind some of the worst urban fighting the nation had seen since World War II.


Ten people, including troops and civilians, were killed when a bomb in a van blew up at an army checkpoint in Basilan in July 2018.

The powerful explosion, claimed by ISIS, occurred after soldiers and pro-government militiamen stopped the vehicle just after dawn to search it.

Authorities believed the attacker intended to target a children's event in a nearby town, but set off the bomb after being intercepted.

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