Twenty people dead and according to associated press 111 people wounded as two bombs minutes apart tore through the Roman Catholic Church, Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the southern island of Jolo in the Philippines early Sunday Morning during worship.
The first blast occurred while mass was being celebrated, the second explosion happened outside the church while parishioners were attempting to flee and the military was coming into the church. Most of the casualties were civilians and military.
“We will pursue to the ends of the earth the ruthless perpetrators behind this dastardly crime until every killer is brought to justice and put behind bars. The law will give them no mercy,” Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks on Jolo. However, there has been speculation about the the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf could be involved.
The Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of militants formed in the 1990's with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network, and has earned millions of dollars from banditry and kidnappings-for-ransom, often targeting foreigners.
The attacks come a week after minority Muslims endorsed a new autonomous region in the predominately Roman Catholic region. According to the Associated Press, Although most of the Muslim areas approved the autonomy deal, voters in Sulu province, where Jolo is located, rejected it. The province is home to a rival rebel faction that’s opposed to the deal as well as smaller militant cells that not part of any peace process.
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