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Priest, soldiers survive blast, wish they could have helped victims

The rector of the Jolo cathedral shed tears as he thought about the parishioners he lost following the two explosions that tore through the church during a mass on Sunday.

According to Marisol Abdurahman's report on "24 Oras", Father Jeff Nadua said many of the victims were like his children.

"Anak 'yung tinatawag ko sa kanila. Nagso-sorry kasi wala ako du'n. Nagso-sorry ako kasi wala akong nagawa," Nadua said.

According to Nadua, the Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu has been the subject of many terror attacks through the years.

The twin explosions on Sunday that left at least 22 people dead and almost 100 hurt was the most harrowing yet.

"This is the vey first time na 'yung pagsabog ay IED (improvised explosive device) 'yung ginamit," Nadua said.

"Dati, 'yung mga experience namin, tatapunan ng granada, ilang beses na. Even before I came, seven, eight times. Pero lahat 'yon sa labas," he added.

Shortly after the first bomb went off inside the church, another device was detonated outside the building as people were trying to run for safety.

Two soldiers who survived the gruesome bombing recalled how the twin blasts rendered churchgoers helpless last Sunday.

Corporal Ruel Diaz was at the market with his fellow troops when they heard the first bomb go off inside the church.

Diaz said they rushed to the scene to rescue the victims, but the second blast caught them off guard.

"Nakita ko may mga matatanda na nandu'n sa lupa na humihingi ng tulong sa'min. Gusto ko sana kunin 'yung isang matanda nu'n. Eh, pumutok na. Tumilapon na rin ako du'n..." he said.

The blast left Diaz with a busted knee and damaged ears.

Private Oliver Serquina was inside the church hearing mass when the first bomb threw him off his feet and buried shrapnel in his body.

Adding to his injuries, it pained him to think that there was little he could do to help injured people inside the church, which he said had been engulfed in fire and smoke.

"Ang pagsabog no'n maam, hindi ko na nakita du'n sa, makapal na kasi 'yung usok na ang apoy," Sequina said.

The attack killed at least 22 people and left almost 100 people hurt. —Margaret Claire Layug/NB, GMA News

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