At least 20 people were killed and 111 others injured, when two bomb attacks hit a cathedral in Jolo, Philippines on January 27, 2019, reports the Catholic News Agency.

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. —Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

The victims were hearing the Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel when the first bomb exploded inside the church followed by a second bomb near the entrance.

According to the police, 15 civilians and five soldiers were killed in the double blasts. Ninety civilians were injured together with police officers, soldiers and coast guards who responded to the emergency.

In a statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said, “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.”

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana condemned the bombing. He ordered government 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.”

Many noted the timing of the church attack. The twin bombings came after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) which establishes a new autonomous region in an attempt to put an end to the decades of conflict in the southern Philippines. The majority of provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao voted for the approval of BOL. However, Muslim voters in the Sulu province where Jolo is located rejected BOL’s approval, according to CNN Philippines.

National Security Adviser Jun Esperon believes that the BOL is the start of the peace process. He said, “We have yet to establish if the 2 explosion are related to the all – important BOL. The BOL ends the secessionist narrative. The BOL signifies the end of war for secession. It stands for peace in Mindanao.”

Sources:
Catholic News Agency
CNN Philippines