The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for a brutal bomb attack on a Filipino cathedral. The massive blast ripped through a faith community on the island of Jolo as Sunday Mass was being celebrated. As soldiers responded at the scene, a second bomb was detonated.
In a statement following the barbaric act, IS said that the bombing was carried out by “two knights of martyrdom” against a “crusader temple.” The first bomb was set off inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, with the second erupting on the doorstep of the church.
At least 20 people were killed and 80 others wounded after twin bombings rocked the Philippine island of Jolo. pic.twitter.com/YeXCJH3iwe
— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) January 28, 2019
At least 81 people were wounded, including several soldiers.
According to the BBC, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called the bombing a “dastardly act” and urged the local population to work in tandem with authorities to “deny terrorism any victory.”
“We will use the full force of the law to bring to justice the perpetrators behind this incident,” he added.
Major General Felimon T. Santos Jr., the Commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, asked the public to be “vigilant and cooperative” following the brutal attack.
Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines Joint Task Force Sulu commander, declared that his forces will “relentlessly hunt the perpetrators of this terror act until justice is served,” according to CNN.
What seemed like just another Sunday for worship suddenly turned into chaos for some of the families in Mindanao.
Yesterday, Catholics were killed and injured by bombings in a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu.
— UST SHS SC (@ustshssc) January 28, 2019
The assault came shortly after the holding of a referendum that resulted in the Muslim-majority population approving the creation of an autonomous region in the southern Philippines.
Pews in the cathedral were reduced to shreds after the first explosive detonated inside the building. (Photo courtesy of the Western Mindanao Command) pic.twitter.com/OC8lGUgrbH
— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) January 27, 2019
However, the town of Jolo, part of the Sulu region, rejected the reform — a move that clearly angered the Islamic militants who are looking to exercise an increasing level of control over the people.
The referendum was the result of a peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). More than 120,000 people have died in the ongoing “Moro Conflict,” which began all the way back in 1969.
The main Islamist militant group is Abu Sayyaf, which has claimed responsibility for many of the horrific terror attacks that have rocked the country in recent times. The group grew in notoriety after joining forces with the Islamic State during the five-month-long battle of Marawi, during which government forces fought a protracted and bloody battle with the murderous militants.
Finally, after thousands of lives had been lost, on Oct. 17, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi was “liberated from terrorist influence.”