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At least 20 killed, dozens hurt in Jolo cathedral blasts —PNP

Twin blasts rocked the Mount Carmel Cathedral in the town of Jolo in Sulu province on Sunday morning, killing at least 20 people and injuring 111 as of 7:53 p.m., the Police Regional Office-ARMM said.

Earlier reports had placed the number of the dead at 27, before this was corrected by Philippine National Police officials.

According to the PRO-ARMM, those killed in the attack were one member of the Philippine Coast Guard, five soldiers, and 14 civilians.

Two police officers, two PCG members, 17 soldiers, and 90 civilians were injured.

Authorities have pointed to a subgroup of the Abu Sayyaf as likely suspects behind the attack.

Photo by Ian Cruz
Photo by Ian Cruz

In an earlier interview on dzBB by Benjie Liwanag, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said that one explosive went off inside the cathedral and the other outside, in the parking area.

Much earlier, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Besana told dzBB that the two explosions occurred at about 8:30 a.m. while a Sunday Mass was ongoing.

The twin blasts took place a week after the conduct of the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which has been deemed ratified by the Commission on Elections.

Majority of the people of Sulu voted against the BOL, which is envisioned to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

CCTV footage

In an interview on Super Radyo DZBB, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said that authorities are reviewing CCTV footage that might identify the suspects.

"Mayroong tinitingnang CCTV na footage ang ating awtoridad at mayroon na rin silang mga na-identify na mga suspek na pumasok doon sa simbahan at diumano ay nagkunwaring mga magsisimba," he said.

Andanar also said there is a "chance" the attack may be linked to the BOL ratification, though other officials hesitated to make the connection. Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman dismissed the possibility, while Armed Forces chief Benjamin Madrigal said that investigators are still looking into it.

Condolences and condemnation

Both condolences for the victims and their families and condemnation for the attackers poured in. Several lawmakers decried the bombings, as did the European Union Delegation to the Philippines and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. 

The Palace vowed to crush the perpetrators behind the attack, while Vice President Robredo hoped that justice will prevail. "Mahalaga na kung sino iyong mga salarin dito, saka iyong mga biktima, mabigyan talaga ng katarungan. Kasi kung hindi, parang na-e-embolden lang iyong iba na gumawa pa ng mga similar na hakbang," she said. —LBG/BM, GMA News

Tags: blast, jolosulu