DAVAO CITY, Philippines — At least 18 dead and 83 others wounded when a bomb went inside a Roman Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday morning in what authorities claimed to be the handiwork of Abu Sayyaf.

The deadly explosion happened six days after the peaceful Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite, according to Army’s Western Mindanao Command. There were two explosions occurred in Sulu around 8:15 am, Sunday (January 27).

A bomb exploded inside the Catholic Cathedral in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu as Holy Mass was being celebrated. Another bomb went off in the parking area of the said church after authorities learned the bomb was placed inside the utility box of a motorcycle.

As of 2:00 p.m, the number of casualties of the bomb explosions in the vicinity of Jolo Cathedral are as follows:

Killed in action- Five (5) AFP and one (1) PCG
Wounded in action- Sixteen (16) AFP and two (2) PCG

Civilian Side
Killed- Twelve (12)
Wounded- Sixty-five (65)

Total Casualties

Killed- Eighteen (18)
Wounded- Eighty-three (83)

“I directed all the units under my command to heighten the alert level and secure all places of worships and public places and/or areas of convergence. We will further intensify our intelligence efforts and initiate pro-active security measures to thwart hostile plans. Kindly advise everyone to be also watchful and extra vigilant as well as report to the authorities any security related issues and concerns,” Joint Task Force Sulu commander, Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo said in a statement.

Pabayo said that Joint Task Force Sulu was deployed immediately to extricate the victims and secure the area.

Victims were rushed to the nearest hospitals in Sulu, while those who incurred major injuries will be airlifted to Zamboanga City for further medical attention, he said.

He added that soldiers have cordoned the explosion site and subsequently transported the casualties to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Station Hospital and Integrated Provincial Health Office-Jolo.

“Evacuation of casualties from Jolo to Zamboanga through the air ambulance of the Philippine Air Force is still ongoing,” the army official said.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Arnel B. Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command condemned the twin bombing incident.

“The Western Mindanao Command condemns this barbaric act of terrorists who indiscriminately attack the innocent civilians in Sulu,” Dela Vega said.

“We commiserate with the bereaved families of the killed victims. Rest assured that we will provide all necessary assistance to the wounded victims and the kin of the departed,” he added. (davaotoday.com)

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