Soldier looks at the site in the Roman Catholic cathedral in Yolo, the capital of Sulu Province in the southern Philippines, after two bombs exploded on Sunday, January 27, 2019 (WESMINCOM Armed Forces of the Philippines Via AP)
Two bombing minutes divide through the Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island where Muslim activists are active, killing at least 20 people and injuring 81 people during Sunday's mass. The first bomb exploded in or near Jollo Cathedral in the province's capital, followed by a second blast outside the building when government forces responded to the attack, security officials said. The blast blew the entrance to the cathedral and tore the main hall, crushing the benches and removing other doors.
Police say at least 20 people have died and 81 injured. Deaths include 15 civilians and five soldiers. Among the wounded were 14 soldiers, 2 policemen and 65 civilians.
Photos showed debris and bodies lying on a lively street in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which was struck by bombs in the past. Armored armored troops sealed the main road leading to the church as the vehicles transported the dead and wounded to the hospital. Some victims were evacuated by air to the nearby town of Zambonga.
"I have directed our troops to raise their level of alertness, to provide all places of worship and public places at once, and to initiate proactive security measures to thwart hostile plans," Defense Minister Dolphin Lorenzana said in a statement.
"We will pursue the relentless perpetrators behind this criminal offense, as long as each murderer is brought to justice and behind the bars, and the law will not give them mercy." President's Office Rodrigo Dütherte said in Manila.
Bomb victims receive treatment in a hospital after two bombs exploded in front of the Roman Catholic cathedral in Yolo, the capital of the southern Philippines province where the fighters are active Sunday, January 27, 2019 (WESMINCOM Armed Forces of the Philippines Via AP)
He said that "the enemies of the state boldly challenged the government's ability to ensure the safety of its citizens in this region." (The Philippine Armed Forces) will face the challenge and crush these ungodly criminals.
Yolo island has long been alarmed by the presence of Abu Sayaf insurgents who have been included in the black list of the United States and the Philippines as a terrorist organization for years of bombing, kidnapping and beheadings. Catholic Bishop Benjamin de Jesus was killed by suspects outside the cathedral in 1997.
No one has taken responsibility for the last attack immediately.
It came almost a week after the minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic Church. nations approved a new autonomous region in southern Philippines in the hope of putting an end to nearly five decades of separatist rebellion that left 150,000 dead. Although most Muslim regions have approved the agreement on autonomy, voters in Sulu Province, where Yolo is located, have rejected it. The province is home to a rival rebel faction opposing the deal, as well as smaller militant cells that are not part of any peace process
Western governments welcomed the pact on autonomy. They worry that a small number of Islamist militants from the Middle East and Southeast Asia will be able to build alliances with the Philippine insurgents and turn the south into a place to breed extremists. and worship, and it comes at a time when we are preparing for a new stage in the peace process in Mindanao, "Governor Mujiv Hattaman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said. "People's lives are indispensable," he added, urging Yolo residents to cooperate with the authorities to find the perpetrators of this "atrocity."
Security officers have been searching for "a variety of threats and can not yet say whether this has anything to do with the just-completed plebiscite," said Albeyalde, head of the national police, to the ABS-CBN television network. ] In addition to the small but brutal Abu Sayyaf group, other Sulu groupings include a small group of young jihadis with the Islamic state group that also carried out attacks, including abductions and beheading
Abu Sayyah rebels still hold at least five hostages – Dutch citizen, two Malaysians, Indonesian and Filipino – in their jungle mostly near the town of Patulul in Sulu, not far from Yolo.
Government forces have pressed sporadic offensives to crush extremists, including those in Yolo, an island with over 700,000 poverty. Several thousands of Catholics live mainly in Yolo's capital.
There was speculation that bombings could be a detour move by Muslim fighters after the troops recently committed an offensive that killed a number of IS-related extremists in the camp inside the province Lanao del Sur, also in the south. The area is near Maravi, a Muslim city besieged by five hundred months of IC, including foreign fighters, in 2017. The troops are suppressing the uprising, leaving more than 1100 dead soldiers, and the heart of the mosque city in ruins.