LIST: Jolo Cathedral bombings, attacks since 2000

Jodesz Gavilan

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LIST: Jolo Cathedral bombings, attacks since 2000
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Sulu, has been the target of many attacks through the years

MANILA, Philippines – The explosions that rocked the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Sunday, January 27, are the latest attacks against the church in Jolo, Sulu.

Since 2000, there have been at least 10 attacks directly against or near the cathedral, Rappler’s research showed. Many of these were allegedly perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf Group. 

The latest attack, which left at least 23 people dead, happened barely two days after the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) was deemed ratified. 

June 3, 2000

A grenade is thrown at the cathedral. The attack comes amid negotiations for the release of hostages taken by the terrorist group in Mindanao. 

March 27, 2006

The terrorist group initially targets the Jolo Cathedral but eventually bombs the nearby multipurpose cooperative building. A Philippine Star report quoted police investigators as saying that the plan shifted because the store “serves both as a religious and commercial target.”

The blast leaves at least 5 dead and 17 wounded. 

THREATS. Army soldiers guard a Christian procession marking the anniversary of the Jolo's Mount Carmel Cathedral in the aftermath of attacks in 2000. Photo by Romeo Gacad/AFP

July 7, 2009 

A improvised explosive device (IED) detonates in front of a shop just 100 meters away from the cathedral, killing at least 6 people and injuring 40. 

Authorities also discover at least two other IEDs within the area lodged inside a motorcycle parked 100 meters from the cathedral.

The blast is one of at least 4 that rocked Mindanao within a 12-hour period, according to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

October 27, 2009

A grenade explodes just outside the cathedral before the lunch time rush. No one is injured in the attack, which leaves damaged properties.

December 31, 2009 

A grenade explodes in front of the cathedral late night on New Year’s Eve, wounding a soldier.

January 10, 2010

A grenade explodes just outside the church wall early Sunday morning, 20 minutes before the day’s first Mass. No casualties were reported. 

According to witnesses, as quoted by the Catholic News Agency, an unidentified man threw the grenade at the tombs of late bishops Francis Joseph McSorley and Benjamin de Jesus.

May 21, 2010

A grenade explodes in a public plaza in front of the cathedral, damaging its gate. No injuries are recorded.

August 1, 2012 

A grenade lands and explodes on the roof of the cathedral but leaves no casualties. 

August 14, 2013 

A grenade explodes outside the Jolo Cathedral, leaving at least one injured. 

AFTERMATH. Inside the Jolo Cathedral in the aftermath of the blast. Photo from AFP Westmincom

January 27, 2019

Twin bombings rock the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. At least 21 people are killed and more than a hundred others injured.

Western Mindanao Command chief Arnel dela Vega says the primary suspect behind the bombing is still the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group based on previous threats, but this is subject to “further assessment and validation.” –

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.