27 killed, 77 injured as twin bombing hits Philippines church


27 killed, 77 injured as twin bombing hits Philippines church

Manila - No one has immediately claimed responsibility.

By AP/Reuters

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Published: Sun 27 Jan 2019, 6:07 AM

Last updated: Mon 28 Jan 2019, 8:03 AM

Two bombs exploded outside a Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island where militants are active, killing at least 27 people and wounding 77 during a Sunday Mass, officials said.
The first bomb went off in or near the Jolo cathedral in the provincial capital, followed by a second blast outside the compound as government forces were responding to the attack, security officials said.
Photos on social media showed debris and bodies lying on a busy street outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which has been hit by bombs in the past. Troops in armored carriers sealed off the main road leading to the church while vehicles were transporting the dead and wounded to the hospital. Some casualties were evacuated by air to nearby Zamboanga city.
"I have directed our troops to heighten their alert level, secure all places of worships and public places at once, and initiate pro-active security measures to thwart hostile plans," said Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a statement.
The military said it airlifted some of the wounded to the nearby city of Zamboanga for medical treatment.
No one has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Jolo lies in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region, which local voters overwhelmingly approved last week.
The island is also a base of the militant group Abu Sayyaf, which is blamed for deadly bombings, including an attack on a ferry in Manila Bay in 2004 that claimed 116 lives in the country's deadliest terror assault.
Last week voters decisively approved a more powerful autonomous region in the Philippines' south, which is hoped will bring peace and development after decades of fighting that have killed thousands and mired the area in poverty.
Sulu province - which includes Jolo - voted against the creation of the new region, with its governor questioning the law establishing the area before the Supreme Court.
Despite Sulu's vote, legislation provides that the province will still be included in the new political entity as voters from across the current autonomous region voted in favour of it on the whole.
Sunday's bombing comes after a New Year's eve blast in the southern Philippine city of Cotabato killed two people and wounded 35 others.
Cotabato last week voted to be included in the new autonomous region.

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