Breaking: Dozens killed in Jolo Cathedral bombing

Breaking: Dozens killed in Jolo Cathedral bombing
This handout photo released by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Information Office (PIO) Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCON) taken on January 27, 2019, shows debris inside a Catholic Church where two bombs exploded in Jolo, Sulu province on the southern island of Mindanao. At least 17 people were killed as two bombs hit a church on a southern Philippine island that is a stronghold of Islamist militants, the military said, just days after a regional vote for a new Muslim autonomous region. The first blast occurred inside the Catholic church on war-torn Jolo on Sunday morning as mass was being celebrated, and was followed by a second explosion in the parking lot as troops responded, regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Besana told AFP.(The Philippine Star)  HANDOUT / AFP

Military eyes Abu Sayyaf behind twin blasts in Jolo

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 27 2019 07:44 PM | Updated as of Jan 28 2019 12:30 AM

Bombing at Jolo Cathedral. ABS-CBN News

MANILA — (UPDATED) The military on Sunday (Jan.27) said it believes that Abu Sayyaf bandits could be behind the fatal explosions at a Catholic Church in Barangay Walled City, Jolo town in Sulu.

Col. Gerry Besana, spokesperson of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said initial probe of the twin blasts points to the Abu Sayyaf’s “Ajang-Ajang” group.

Authorities were able to point to the group through the CCTV footage they have recovered.

Some 20 people, including civilians and soldiers, died in the blasts as of 2 p.m., Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police said.

Around 80 more people, including civilians, soldiers, and policemen were also reportedly injured because of the explosions, the police official added.

The casualties from the Jolo blast were transported to Zamboanga City through an air ambulance.

The province of Sulu, is a known bastion of the Abu Sayyaf, an Al-Qaeda linked responsible for kidnapping and bombing activities in the restive south.

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said they had received earlier reports of the Abu Sayyaf’s plan to bomb in a crowded area.

“There’s been long time that we are receiving information that ASG with a foreign terrorist in the area are planning to do bombing in an urban or populated area,” he told ANC in an interview Sunday.

The fatal explosions happened less than a week after Filipino Muslims in the south called Bangsamoro voted to create a new region for them with greater autonomy.

While the proposed creation of the Bangsamoro autonomous region gained overwhelming support in a large portion of Muslim Mindanao, the province of Sulu voted against it.

The military, however, said it is still too early to connect the blast to the recent Bangsamoro plebiscite held in Muslim Mindanao, which was generally peaceful.— report from Jewel Reyes, ABS-CBN News

The province of Sulu, is a known bastion of the Abu Sayyaf, an Al-Qaeda linked responsible for kidnapping and bombing activities in the restive south.

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said they had received earlier reports of the Abu Sayyaf’s plan to bomb a crowded area.

“There’s been long time that we are receiving information that ASG with a foreign terrorist in the area are planning to do bombing in an urban or populated area,” he told ANC in an interview Sunday.

The fatal explosions happened less than a week after Filipino Muslims in the south called Bangsamoro voted to create a new region for them with greater autonomy.

While the proposed creation of the Bangsamoro autonomous region gained overwhelming support in a large portion of Muslim Mindanao, the province of Sulu voted against it.

The military, however, said it is still too early to connect the blast to the recent Bangsamoro plebiscite held in Muslim Mindanao, which was generally peaceful. — report from Jewel Reyes, ABS-CBN News

CBCP statement on the Jolo cathedral bombings

We, Catholic Bishops gathered in our Plenary Assembly in Manila, received today the sad news from Fr. Romeo S. Saniel, OMI, Apostolic Administrator of Jolo, of the bombing of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo during the Sunday Mass.

We condole with the families of the several soldiers and civilians who were killed by the explosions. We also express our sympathies with those who were wounded and extend our solidarity with the rest of the church-goers inside the Cathedral and the rest of the church community in the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo.

At the same time, we condemn this act of terrorism that has taken place only a few days after the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

As we begin a new phase in the peace process with the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM), we ask our Christian brethren to join hands with all peace-loving Muslim and Indigenous People communities in the advocacy against violent extremism.

May all our religions of peace guide us in our quest for a brighter future for the peoples of Mindanao.

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

+ Romulo G. Valles
Archbishop of Davao
President, CBCP
January 27, 2019

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