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Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly Philippine bombing

Published Dec 02, 2023 10:37PM ET Updated Dec 04, 2023 12:22AM ET
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4/4 © Reuters. Lanao Del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. stands among law enforcement officers as they investigate the scene of an explosion that occurred during a Catholic Mass in a gymnasium at Mindanao State University in Marawi, Philippines, December 3, 2023. Lanao 2/4
 
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By Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales

MANILA (Reuters) - Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing at a Catholic Mass in the Philippines on Sunday that killed at least four people and injured 50 others.

The attack was carried out in a university gymnasium in Marawi, a city in the south of the country besieged by Islamist militants for five months in 2017.

The Islamic State group, which wields influence in the country's south, said on Telegram its members had detonated the bomb.

Earlier on Sunday, before Islamic State's claim, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr condemned "the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists". Police and the military strengthened security in the country's south and around the capital Manila.

In Rome, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims during his Sunday address, and, in a separate written message, appealed to "Christ the prince of peace (to) grant to all the strength to turn from violence and overcome every evil with good".

Law enforcement operations to bring to justice the perpetrators of the "terrorist activity" will "continue unabated", Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro told a press conference.

There were "strong indications of a foreign element" in the bombing, Teodoro said, refusing to elaborate so as not to compromise ongoing investigation.

Fragments of a 60-mm mortar were recovered at the scene, senior police official Emmanuel Peralta told the press conference.

HIGH ALERT

The blast in Marawi, capital of Lanao del Sur province, followed a series of military operations against local pro-Islamic State groups in the southern Philippines, the military chief said.

One on Sunday in Lanao del Sur led to the killing of a leader of the Dawlah Islamiya-Maute group.

"It is possible that what happened this morning was a retaliatory attack," Armed Forces Chief Romeo Brawner told the press conference.

The Islamic State-linked Maute seized Marawi on May 2017, seeking to make it a Southeast Asian "wilayat" – or governorate - for Islamic State.

In the ensuing five-month battle, Islamist fighters and Philippine forces killed more than a thousand people, including civilians.

Images shared by the Lanao del Sur government on Facebook (NASDAQ:META) showed military officials surveying the gym at the Mindanao State University where the blast occurred, which appeared intact except for burn marks in the centre.

Videos posted by DZBB radio on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, showed rescuers carrying injured people out of the gym on plastic chairs.

Police offices in Mindanao and the capital region were placed on high alert and police checkpoints tightened "to prevent possible follow-up incidents", police official Peralta said.

The coast guard directed its districts to intensify pre-departure inspections at ports.

Mindanao State University said in a Facebook post it was "deeply saddened and appalled by the act of violence that occurred during a religious gathering". "We unequivocally condemn in the strongest possible terms this senseless and horrific act."

The university said it was suspending classes until further notice.

(This story has been corrected to say 60-mm mortar, not 16-mm mortar, in paragraph 8)

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly Philippine bombing
 

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Comments (8)
Trumpster Rocks
Trumpster Rocks Dec 04, 2023 12:48AM ET
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i'm sure obammmmmma is Proud of his True religion
Teena Marie
Teena Marie Dec 03, 2023 4:39PM ET
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Millennials are not connecting the dots. This is showing in surveys that support of war against terrorism is largely age related.
Barry Nickerson
Subbuilder Dec 03, 2023 4:39PM ET
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Remind me to never antagonize you.  You are a dangerous, read between the line, thinker.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Dec 03, 2023 2:22PM ET
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Islamic violence? No way.
chess reed
chess reed Dec 03, 2023 1:19PM ET
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They ONLY (yeah sure) want Palestine (Israel) 'back' and then they'll 'stop'  I guess
chess reed
chess reed Dec 03, 2023 1:17PM ET
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We can't kill them - they use human shields - the UN and RED CROSS doesn't let! go figure
Tyrone Jackson
Tyrone Jackson Dec 03, 2023 1:11PM ET
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Peaceful people
David JC
ILoveQE Dec 03, 2023 10:31AM ET
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Once again...D-I-E has failed.
Barry Nickerson
Subbuilder Dec 03, 2023 6:42AM ET
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Another peaceful Islamist demonstration, go figure.
 
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