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Four killed, 50 wounded in explosion at Catholic Mass in Philippines

Dec 04, 2023

Manila [Philippines], December 4: Four people were killed and 50 wounded in an explosion on Sunday during a Catholic Mass in the southern Philippines, the military and police said.
The blast occurred at 7.40am (2340 GMT Saturday) during the Mass celebrating the first Sunday of Advent in a gymnasium inside the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City, 817km south of Manila.
Three of the fatalities were women, and one was male, according to Major General Gabriel Viray, an army division commander said.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr condemned the attack, which he blamed on foreign terrorists. "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists upon the Mindanao State University and Marawi communities early this Sunday morning," he said in a statement.
"Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society," he added.
The explosion was caused by a homemade bomb using a 60-millimetre mortar, according to police Lieutenant General Emmanuel Peralta. Police and military explosives and ordnance units gathered fragments of the mortar during initial investigation, he said.
Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said authorities were not at liberty to disclose more information on the suspected involvement of foreign terrorists in the attack, but noted that "there are strong indications of a foreign element" in the attack.
Major General Gabriel Viray, an army division commander, said earlier that the bombing could have been a retaliation for a series of military offensives against the militant Daulah Islamiyah Maute group. "This is an act of terror, probably by the Daulah Islamiyah Maute group," he said. "We are looking at the bomb to see if it's the group's signature bomb." On Friday, 11 Daulah Islamiyah militants were killed during a military offensive in nearby Maguindanao province, the military said.
The MSU condemned the attack on the weekly Mass, and suspended classes until further notice. "Our immediate priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of all constituents, particularly our Christian community," the university said in a statement.
"We want to assure everyone that we are taking every measure possible to protect our students, faculty and staff," it added.
Marawi City was the site of a five-month siege by Islamist militants in 2017, leaving more than 1,200 people killed, including civilians. The attack left the city in rubble, displacing some 200,000 people.
Source: Qatar Tribune