An improvised bomb exploded Saturday at the roof of a Catholic church in the southern Philippines, injuring six people attending a Christmas Day mass, a regional military spokesman said.
Among those wounded was the priest who was celebrating the mass at the chapel of a police camp on Jolo Island, 1,000 km south of Manila, Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said.
Cabangbang said the bomb was placed at the rooftop of the chapel, damaging the steel beam and the ceiling during the blast.
Police have not yet determined the suspects behind the attack, but Jolo is a known lair of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf rebels, who have been blamed for deadly terrorist attacks in the Philippines.
ZAMBOANGA CITY -- At least six churchgoers were left slightly wounded when a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) went off at the roof of a chapel in Jolo, capital town of Sulu, where devotees are attending mass on Christmas Day.
Randolph G. Cabangbang, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said the bomb went off while mass was still ongoing around 7:15 a.m. at Jolo’s Asturias Chapel. Asturias is a village in Jolo.
Authorities rushed to the scene to help the wounded and to pacify the chaotic situation. Bomb experts also searched for a possible bombs that could have been planted elsewhere even inside the church.
“Initial investigation revealed that the IED was placed at the roof of the church where it damaged the metal roof,” Mr. Cabangbang said in short text messages sent to reporters here.
“SOCO (Scene of Crime Operations) team of Sulu provincial police is now conducting an investigation,” he said.
On the initial list of injured in the explosion are Emma Tan, 29; a certain Antonette, 30; and a priest identified as Fr. Bacolcol. Authorities could not yet identify the perpetrators behind the bombing pending results of the investigation.
Violence in Sulu such as shootings, kidnappings, and bombing are not uncommon. The island-province is known a stronghold of terror group Abu-Sayyaf, which has been launching attacks against civilians and law enforcement authorities in the past. The group has tactical ties with the Al-Qaeda terrorist group.
Early this week, Abu Sayyaf released its Filipino-Chinese Kenn Klifford Lao who was held since October. Authorities did not provide information if a ransom was paid in exchange for the safe release of the victim. -- Darwin T. Wee