The attack took place days after the ratification of the Bansmoro Organic Law (BOL) which was rejected in the province of Sulu.
Two bomb explosions targeting a Catholic church in the province of Sulu, Philippines, left a death toll of 27 and 77 injured, while the motive of the attacks and the identity of the assailants remains unconfirmed, police reported.
The attacks took place days after the ratification of the Bansmoro Organic Law (BOL) which was rejected in Sulu, part of the Autonomous Region of Mindanao (ARMM), as is the only territory to have done so.
Regardless of the rejection, Sulu is mandated by law to implement provisions for the new law.
BOL establishes the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Mindanao (BARMM) as a replacement for the ARMM. Mindanao is the largest island in the Philippines and Sulu is one of its provinces.
The law was ratified after a historic vote held on Jan. 25, 2018. The poll represents a high-point in a decades-long push to halt the violence that has claimed some 150,000 lives in the southern Philippines.
BOL gives the nation's Muslim minority greater control over the region.
The peace process between government and Muslim groups began in the 1990s and does not include hardline Muslim pressure groups, such as those aligned with the Islamic State group—also active in the southern Philippines.
“The primary suspect is still ASG [Abu Sayyaf, or ‘Bearer of the Sword’],” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command.
Abu Sayyaf is an insurgent group believed to hold close links to the Islamic State, a group which allegedly has its own cells operating in the Philippines, according to The Guardian.
Muslim groups have long been battling for independence or autonomy on Mindanao, which they regard as their ancestral homeland dating back to when Arab traders arrived there in the 13th century.