Jolo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Two bombs killed 27 people and injured dozens more this morning at the Catholic cathedral in Jolo, an island near Mindanao.
The first blast happened at 8.45 am, as Sunday Mass was underway, in the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which had been targeted in the past. A second device was detonated in the nearby parking lot as soldiers responded.
The official death toll is not yet final, but at least 27 people, civilians and soldiers, are known to have been killed, and at least 48 are wounded.
As the military sealed off the area, the injured were taken to hospitals with some airlifted to Zamboanga. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the twin-attack.
Jolo island has long been troubled by Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist organisation inspired by al Qaeda, which has carried out bombings, kidnappings and beheadings.
Today's attack comes a few hours after a referendum approved the creation o the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The vote ended with the victory for autonomy and should bring to an end almost 50 years of conflict between the Philippine military and rebel separatist Islamic groups. However, although many Muslims backed the new political entity, the province of Sulu rejected it. Jolo is its capital.
According to analysts, the referendum is very much to the benefit of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), but there are other rebel groups and extremists who feel excluded from the autonomy and its benefits.