Double bomb attack on Catholic church in Philippines kills 20

Double bomb attack on Catholic church in Philippines kills 20

A DOUBLE bomb attack on a Catholic church in the southwestern Philippines has killed 20 people, police have said.

The attack began as Sunday Mass was about to start at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Jolo Island, Sulu.

The first blast occurred in or near the church at around 8.45am local time (12.45am GMT)

The second went off in the car park of the church as government forces responded to the first attack.

(Image: Western Mindanao Command)

Fifteen of the deceased are believed to be civilians, while five soldiers are thought to have died in the follow-up attack.

A further 81 people have been injured, reports AP News.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it comes days after a referendum in which voters approved the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in majority-Muslim areas of southern Philippines.

'Orchestrated by terrorists'

Lieutenant General Arnel B. Dela Vega of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), a division of the Philippines’ armed forces, condemned the attack.

“The Western Mindanao Command decries the inhumane attacks on Christians orchestrated by terrorists in Sulu,” he said.

“These indiscriminate acts against innocent civilians only reflect the extremist and radical ideologies of terrorists that wreak havoc and disrespect both religions of Islam and Christianity.

“We sincerely commiserate with the bereaved families of civilians killed in the blast at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu this morning.

“We also mourn the loss of our comrades in arms, but this will, all the more, motivate us to intensify our combat operations and crush terrorist groups in Sulu.

“This is a resounding call on every God-fearing Suluanon to take part and to help the armed forces to defeat terrorism in Sulu.

“Truly, there is no better solution but to work in harmony to bring the coveted peace in the province.”

The Westmincom said casualties had been transferred to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Station Hospital and the Integrated Provincial Health Office in Jolo.

Others have been airlifted by the Philippine Air Force to Zamboanga, around 150km northwest of Jolo.