Philippine Church Bombing Kills 20 After Vote for Muslim Governance
Cathedral attack injures 100 on the island of Jolo, home to Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
Filipino Christians are mourning at least 20 churchgoers and soldiers as martyrs after terrorists attacked a Catholic cathedral during Sunday mass in a heavily Muslim island in the southern Philippines.
Two bombs went off at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo within minutes, the first blasting through rows of pews and the second shooting from the entrance to kill scrambling parishioners as well as the guards positioned outside to protect the church week after week.
Mount Carmel’s iconic blue-windowed façade, facing the provincial capital’s town square, was shattered and the streets quiet as officials warned residents against large gatherings in the wake of the bombing. In a region plagued by Islamist violence, it’s not the first attack on the cathedral—but it is the deadliest.
Sunday’s tragedy comes less than week after surrounding islands voted to form an autonomous region among the Muslim strongholds in an effort to end ongoing clashes between Philippine forces and separatists. Muslims in Jolo largely opposed the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM), but were voted into it anyway.
The terrorists killed at least 15 civilians and wounded at least 90 inside the Jolo church, in addition to the 5 soldiers guarding the service who died. A local priest described the victims as regulars at the 8 a.m. mass.
“They bravely stayed in Jolo in spite of the threats and insecurities. I believe they have died for their Christian faith,” said Romeo Saniel, the city’s apostolic administrator, who noted that personal friends as well as congregational leaders, including the former head of the Parish Pastoral Council, were among the list of those confirmed dead so far.
April 23, 2019