Two bombs tore through a Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island where Muslim militants are active, killing at least 20 people and wounding 111 others during Sunday Mass. Witnesses said the first blast inside the Jolo cathedral sent churchgoers, some wounded, to stampede out the main door. Army troops and police posted outside were rushing in when the second bomb went off about a minute later near the main entrance, causing more deaths and injuries. The military was checking a report that the second explosive device may have been attached to a parked motorcycle. The initial explosion scattered the wooden pews inside the main hall and blasted window glass panels, and the AP reports that the second bomb hurled human remains and debris across a town square fronting the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The fatalities included 15 civilians and five troops. Among the wounded were 17 troops, two police, two coast guard members, and 90 civilians. Troops in armored carriers sealed off the main road leading to the church. "I have directed our troops to heighten their alert level, secure all places of worships and public places at once, and initiate pro-active security measures to thwart hostile plans," said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. "We will pursue to the ends of the earth the ruthless perpetrators behind this dastardly crime until every killer is brought to justice and put behind bars. The law will give them no mercy," the office of President Rodrigo Duterte said, promising to "crush these godless criminals." Jolo island has long been troubled by Abu Sayyaf militants, who are blacklisted by the US and the Philippines as a terrorist organization.
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