A bomb explosion killed more than 20 people and left at least 50 others injured on Sunday morning, January 27, at a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Sulu, the Philippines.
According to an article by the Daily Mail, the first attack took place early in the morning during a mass at the Jolo Cathedral. As government officials and paramedic staff rushed to the blast site to respond to the injured, another explosion occurred, which led to more devastation, injuries, and loss of lives.
Oscar Albayalde — Philippine National Police chief — confirmed that so far 21 people have lost their lives while 70 have suffered injuries. According to a report by the Strait Times, however, chief superintendent of police, Graciano Mijares, said that the toll was higher than reported, as there was some miscommunication with hospitals where the dead and the wounded were shifted. He added that so far 27 people have been killed while 81 were left wounded — 14 of whom were soldiers.
Following the blast, disturbing images of bodies lying around and debris caused by the blast emerged on social media and people strongly condemned the cowardly attack. For security reasons, authorities immediately cordoned off the road leading to the church to prevent any more untoward incidents from taking place.
A statement was issued by the government on Sunday wherein it condemned the attack and said that measures will be taken to find the culprits and put them behind bars. “The law will give them no mercy,” the statement said, per the Daily Mail.
BREAKING: At least 7 dead, 35 wounded in Jolo, Sulu church explosions https://t.co/d9xfii7K8z— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) January 27, 2019
As of the writing of this article, no one had claimed the responsibility for the attack, according to Mr. Albayalde.
“We don’t have any lead yet. We’re looking at different threat groups in the area. We can’t say yet if this has anything to do with the recent plebiscite.”
The officer was referring to a recent referendum wherein more than 2.8 million Muslims cast votes for self-rule in Mindanao. Voters in Sulu, however, refused it.
Jolo has historically been a troubled area because of the presence of Jihadist faction, Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), who have carried out out kidnappings and bombings in the past as well. Per the Strait Times article, ASG — which has been designated as a terror group by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines, among others — hasn’t confined its activities to Sulu, but is also responsible for carrying out the most deadly terror attacks in the country’s history, notably the ferry bombing in 2004 wherein more than 100 people lost their lives.