Police believe the assailants might have been acting in retaliation for an attack perpetrated on a Catholic church last week in Jolo, Mindanao.
An attack perpetrated in a mosque in the city of Zamboanga Penninsula of the Philippines on Wednesday left a death toll of two with a reported four wounded, according to local media reports.
Police reported they have found safety pins belonging to grenades used in the attack but have been unable to identity the attackers. They have not ruled out the possibility that the assailants might have been acting in retaliation for an attack perpetrated on a Catholic church last week in Jolo, Mindanao.
The mosque, where the attacks took place, is located in the Talon-Talon neighborhood where people are primarily Roman Catholic. The peninsula's population is 60 percent Roman Catholic and 35 percent Muslim.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the military to go after the Abu Sayyaf group to bring them to justice.
This is not an isolated attack on Philippine’s religious communities. Recently, two bomb explosions targeting a Catholic church in the province of Sulu, Philippines, left a death toll of 27, with 77 injured.
Officials originally blamed the attack on Abu Sayyaf insurgents who have links to the Islamic State (IS). However, the IS has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to The New York Times.
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.
Experts believe the vote recently conducted which favored granting autonomy to Muslims in the conflict-ridden South of the country did not include certain groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and that it should not be expected to lead to peace in the short term.
A local council from a Muslim clerical body issued a statement in solidarity with the families of the deceased: “We share the grief of the families who lost their loved ones and sincerely extend our condolences to them in the most comforting manner that a human being may.”