News analysis

Churches remain symbolic targets of ISIS

Manila says local militants against self-rule behind Sulu blast despite terror group's claim

The bombing of a Roman Catholic cathedral in the Philippine province of Sulu on Sunday is a deadly reminder that churches remain a symbolic target of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), following similar attacks claimed by the militant group in France, Egypt, Russia and Indonesia in recent years.

Despite ISIS' claim for the latest strike, Manila seems to prefer to believe that it was perpetrated by domestic militants opposed to the Jan 21 vote for self-rule in southern Muslim Mindanao.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2019, with the headline 'Churches remain symbolic targets of ISIS'. Print Edition | Subscribe