02/01/2019, 13.09
PHILIPPINES
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Hunting for Abu Sayyaf over Jolo attack, Zamboanga mosque attack due to feud, not revenge

The mosque attack is unrelated to the Jolo cathedral blasts. Jihadi bomb maker Kamah might be behind the blast at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Muslim religious leaders in Zamboanga warn against letting violence turn into a religious conflict.

Zamboanga (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The police and the military on Thursday announced that Abu Sayyaf’s Ajang-Ajang group was the prime suspect in Sunday’s deadly bombing at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu province, which was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group..

The authorities have ruled out any connection between the bombing in Jolo, which killed 21 people, and the grenade thrown three days later against a mosque in Zamboanga City, which killed two Muslim preachers.

According to investigators, the motive for the mosque attack was not revenge by Christians, but a family feud between Islamic clans, called rido. To avoid fresh sectarian tensions, local Muslim religious leaders (ulama) called for calm and unity among people of every faith.

Meanwhile, the investigation and military operations continue against the terrorist network behind the attack against the Catholic community in Jolo.

Oscar Albayalde, director general of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that Kamah, a Jihadi and a notorious bomb maker, might be behind the blasts.

According to reports from the security forces, Kamah has threatened to attack the cathedral since his return from Sabah (Malaysian Borneo). Kamah, noted Albayalde, is one of the brothers of a slain Abu Sayyaf commander.

Chief Inspector Shellamie Chang, a Zamboanga City police spokesperson, said that the investigation into the attack on the Kamahaldikaan mosque in the Talon-Talon ward (barangay) has focused on two possible reasons: rido, one of the main causes of violence among families in the area, and politics, since one of the victims was a village councillor in Basilan.

Colonel Gerry Besana, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), noted that two “persons of interest” were under investigation.

Yesterday evening, the Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula condemned the attack and reiterated its call for "vigilance and sobriety, in these turbulent and volatile times".

“We call on everyone, Muslims and Christians alike, to maintain our solidarity and harmony as advocates of peace and to exert our utmost to prevent the situation from escalating into a religious conflict,” said the ulama in a statement.

Both victims of the mosque attack were members of Jamaah Tableegh, a Sunni-inspired Islamic missionary movement.

Haji Ridwan Julpali, an elder with the group, said that Muslims and Christians should remain united against any threats to freely practising faith.

“We should not hold on to hate. Muslims and Christians should be united and broaden the love among us and increase of worship of God,” Julpali explained.

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