20 Feared Killed in Twin Bomb Attacks on Philippine Church
Two bombs, on Sunday, shook a Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippines island. The twin bomb attacks killed at least 20 people and left more than 80 wounded.
Two suspected improvised explosive devices were exploded at intervals at the Jolo Catholic cathedral in the Mindanao region, injuring more than 80 people, including 14 soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and two Philippine National Police officers, according to the authorities.
The first blast that took place inside the cathedral broke pews and windows and left bodies scattered apart. Shortly, another explosion was heard outside, killing the military personnel, who were rushing inside to help the victims.
ISIS claimed the responsibility of the twin bomb attacks via its Amaq News Agency on Sunday. Moments after the news agency’s report, ISIS’ “East Asia Province” also issued an official statement for the twin suicide bombings.
The area has been secured by the police and the military and all causalities have been evacuated.
Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana condemned the bombing and has asked military to “heighten their alert level” at public and worship areas.
“As we convey our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of the victims and offer our sympathy to the peace-loving people of Sulu who are severely affected by this dastardly act, we assure our people that we will use the full force of the law to bring to justice the perpetrators behind this incident,” Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana also asked the nation to “remain calm and avoid spreading panic in our respective communities to deny terrorism any victory.”
Despite nation’s recent steps towards peace, this twin bomb attack comes as a huge blow in the insurgency-plagued southern Philippines, indicating that the militants continue to remain a threat in the region. It is considered to be one of the most lethal bomb attacks in the country.
Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said his forces will “relentlessly hunt the perpetrators of this terror act until justice is served.”
Pope Francis also expressed his “strongest reprobation” for the violence. Once again, he said, “the Christian community has been plunged into mourning.”
Bishop Angelito Lampon, who previously served in Jolo, said this is not the first attack on the cathedral.
“In my 20 years there from 1998 to last week, there were seven hand grenades lobbed into our cathedral,” he said. “Fortunately there was just a little damage and no casualties.”
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also condemned the attack, calling for “the perpetrators of these crimes to be swiftly brought to justice.”
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