Cathedral damaged in Phil bomb attack Fifteen people are dead and a Catholic cathedral severely damaged after a siege by Al Qaeda-linked militants left 15 people dead.
At least 25 Abu Sayyaf militants wearing police and military camouflage uniforms on Tuesday set off two bombs that blew up a van and damaged the Santa Isabela Catholic cathedral in Isabela City in the worst attack by the group in months, Sin Chew Daily reports.
The bombings sparked gunbattles around the city, with the militants targeting helpless civilians scampering to safety.
ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Bishop of Basilan issues appeal through Fides, says Cathedral is destroyed, people are terrified; asks for help from Universal ChurchIsabela (Agenzia Fides) – "It is terrible. The bomb that exploded yesterday destroyed 70% of the Cathedral of Isabela and is now unsafe for use. Thank God, there were no casualties. Today we celebrated Mass at the Catechetical Center. The faithful are terrified. These terrorist acts seek to make life difficult for Christians and drive them out of Basilan.” This is the dramatic testimony Fides has received from Bishop Martin Jumoad of the Prelature of Isabella, the capital of Basilan Island, in the southernmost part of the Philippines.
Yesterday, there were two terrorist attacks on the island: a bomb hit a government building and another hit the Catholic Cathedral in the city, leaving it severely damaged. Later, there were shots exchanged between terrorists and security forces, resulting in about 15 victims.
"It is the first time we are attacked so directly and with such force. In the past, I received several threatening letters and intimidation. There have been other smaller attacks, but now it is very different. This could be a tragedy. I seriously fear for my life and the lives of the faithful. However, today I went out to encourage the faithful. This is my mission," the Bishop told Fides.
"I have prepared a pastoral letter calling on Catholics to stay in Basilan, which is our home, and asking them to remain calm, not to react to violence, and to pray for peace. Today, a procession of people carrying candles as a sign of peace lit the city. Our hope must not die," he added, recalling that the population in Basilan is over 60%, compared to 40% Christian.