>> Philippines security forces blame an affiliate of militant group Abu Sayyaf for a deadly church attack over the weekend. More specifically, authorities say it was orchestrated by a faction called Ajang-Ajang, a group that's notorious in the region for kidnapping and extortion. Police say, Ajang-Ajang carried out the attack as revenge for the deaths of relatives killed during military operations against Abu Sayyaf.
The bombing on Saturday killed at least 20 people and injured over 100. It was one of the deadliest attacks in recent years hitting Jolo, a predominantly Muslim island in the south. It also came just days after a referendum on autonomy in the region in which residents voted overwhelmingly yes.
Reuters' Martin Petty says that was widely seen as a step towards ending decades of violence.>> This is a minority Muslim area of a predominantly Catholic country. They wanted self-determination for quite some time, there was a long and violent armed struggle by the separatists, and now they'll be leading the transition to a new government.
I don't think anybody is under any illusion that this is a magic wand, but the hope is that this will lead to more investment in infrastructure, education, health care, more jobs creation. And ultimately settle the violence by solving the grievance that has led to the banditry, to the crime, to the recruitment by extremist groups.
>> Authorities say the group outsmarted law enforcement authorities and were able to pull of the attack, despite tightened security for the referendum. Many are worried it will inspire other groups to do more.