Fatal bombing during a Catholic Mass in Marawi; 4 dead, 50+ injured.
President Marcos Jr blames “foreign terrorists,” condemns the “senseless” act.
Increased police and military presence in southern regions and Manila.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr denounced a fatal bombing on Sunday, attributing responsibility to “foreign terrorists.”
In response, security measures were intensified in the southern regions and around the capital, Manila, by both the police and the military. The explosion occurred during a morning Catholic Mass in a university gymnasium in Marawi, claiming the lives of at least four individuals and injuring a minimum of 50 others. Marawi had previously faced a five-month siege by militants in 2017.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists,” Marcos said in a statement. “Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society.”
The explosion in Marawi, the capital of Lanao del Sur province, occurred in the wake of a series of military operations targeting local groups in the southern Philippines, according to the military chief. These operations, including one on Sunday in Lanao del Sur, resulted in the death of a leader of one of the groups.
“It is possible that what happened this morning was a retaliatory attack,” Armed Forces Chief Romeo Brawner told the press conference.
In May 2017, the militant group took control of Marawi, leading to a protracted five-month conflict during which over a thousand lives, including civilians, were lost in the clashes between fighters and Philippine forces.
Military officials examined the gym at Mindanao State University, as depicted in images shared by the Lanao del Sur government on Facebook.
Despite burn marks at the center from the explosion, the structure appeared mostly intact, with scattered white plastic chairs. Rescuers were seen in videos from DZBB radio carrying injured individuals out of the gym on plastic chairs.
In response to the incident, police in Mindanao and the capital region heightened security measures, placing police checkpoints to forestall potential follow-up incidents, as stated by police official Peralta.
The coast guard instructed its districts to intensify pre-departure inspections at ports.
Mindanao State University is “deeply saddened and appalled by the act of violence that occurred during a religious gathering,” the school posted on Facebook. “We unequivocally condemn in the strongest possible terms this senseless and horrific act.”
The university announced the suspension of classes until further notice.
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