At least 20 dead in Philippines church bombings

At least 20 people have been killed and dozens more injured in two bombings that targeted a church in Southern Philippines. The first blast happened as Sunday Mass was being celebrated at the church on Jolo island, where Islamist militants are active.

When emergency services attended the first incident, a second bomb was detonated in the car park. No group has so far said it was behind the attack. Jolo has long been a base for militants including those of the Abu Sayyaf group.

The attack happened at 8:45am local time (12:45am GMT) inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which has been hit by bombs in the past.

Local authorities initially claimed the death toll to be 27, but claimed there was some double counting in the initial report, and later lowered to number dead to 20. It is reported that most were civilians.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana urged the local population to work with the authorities to “deny terrorism any victory”, and called the blasts a “dastardly act”.

“We will use the full force of the law to bring to justice the perpetrators behind this incident.”

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