Bombs kill at least 27 people at mass in southern Philippines cathedral

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From ABC News Australia

Two bombs have exploded outside a Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island where Muslim militants are active, killing at least 27 people and injuring more than 70 during a Sunday mass.

The first bomb went off in or near the Jolo cathedral in the provincial capital, followed by a second blast outside the compound as government forces were responding to the attack, security officials said.

Police said at least 27 people died and 77 were injured. The dead included 20 civilians and seven soldiers. Among the injured were 14 soldiers, two police officers and 61 civilians.

The initial explosion scattered the wooden pews inside the main hall of the cathedral and blasted window glass panels.

The second bomb hurled human remains and debris across a town square fronting the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, witnesses said. Mobile phone signal was cut off in the first hours after the attack.

Photos on social media showed debris and bodies lying on a busy street outside the cathedral, which has been hit by bombs in the past. Jolo island has long been troubled by the presence of Abu Sayyaf militants, who are blacklisted by the US and the Philippines as a terrorist organisation because of years of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings.

Aside from the small but brutal Abu Sayyaf group, other militant groups in Sulu include a small band of young jihadis aligned with the Islamic State group, which has also carried out assaults, including ransom kidnappings and beheadings.

No-one has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

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