Jan. 28 (UPI) — The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the twin bomb attacks on Sunday at a Roman Catholic cathedral in the Philippines that killed at least 27 people and injured 100 more.
The claim was issued by ISIS, hours after the attack, through its Amaq news agency, The Straits Times reported, citing the SITE Intelligence Group, an American company that monitors terrorist attacks.
ISIS then released a formal communique claiming that the attack was carried out by two suicide bombers who detonated bombs they wore on their belts.
However, a cellphone discovered inside the church points to the bombs having been detonated remotely, the Manila Bulletin reported.
And recovered CCTV footage has authorities zeroing in on homegrown terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, which does have ties to ISIS, ABS-CBN News reported, adding that Col. Gerry Besana, spokesperson for the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the initial probe into the attack suggests that Abu Sayyaf is responsible.
In response, the National Bureau of Investigation will be heading an investigation into the incident, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.
“It’s mass murder and desecration of a place of worship,” Guevarra said, ABS-CBN News reported.
Early Sunday morning two bombs ripped through Jolo, with the first explosion occurring within the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel before Mass and the second, an improvised explosive device in the utility box of a motorcycle, igniting in the cathedral’s parking lot.
Speculation over who is responsible has been swirling since the attack occurred Sunday in Jolo, an island that lies in the proposed Bangsamoro Muslim-majority autonomous region.
Days before the attack, voters overwhelmingly backed the plan to make the region a Muslim autonomous region.
Sulu, which includes Jolo, voted against the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao plan.
However, the military said it is too early to connect the attack with the recent vote, ABS-CBN reported.
Since the attack Sunday, Jolo Island has been under lockdown, Philippines national Police Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said.
“The National Headquarters ordered the lockdown. Jolo, Sulu was placed on total lockdown — that’s why we can see there are no people here and the stores are closed,” said Albayalde, the Manila Bulletin reported.