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Deadly terror attack on Catholic Cathedral during mass putting tourism plans on hold

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Jolo Island in the Philippines means a mixture of Muslims and Christians trying to live together. The region had big plans to become a Boracay type tourist spot in the Philippines 6 years ago, but never developed much in the visitor’s industry. Tourist would find colorful mosques in the town. Tausug or the local people are very friendly and hospitable to visitors.

Today however terrorist blew up the town’s cathedral during a Catholic mass killing 27, injuring a least 77. There were two bombs. 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. The blasts blew away the entrance to the cathedral and ripped through the main hall, shredding to pieces the pews and toppling other doors.

Jolo Island is the largest island in the Sulu archipelago, Southwest Philippines. Possessing magnificent white sand beaches, it may soon become an island resort similar to Boracay in central Philippines or even to Phuket in Thailand as part of a new tourism plan that will lure Filipino and foreign visitors.

Today however photos showed debris and bodies lying on a busy street outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which has been hit by bombs in the past. Troops in armored carriers sealed off the main road leading to the church while vehicles transported the dead and wounded to the hospital. Some casualties were evacuated by air to nearby Zamboanga city.

Aside from white sand beaches, Jolo Island is also rich in natural resources and underwater ecosystem. It is famous for its deep sea crabs called “curacha” and exotic fruits, such as durian and mangosteen berries. It has a huge production of high-grade abaca ropes or “arabica”, robusta coffee beans, copra, and carrageenan.