A bomb explosion at a local university Sunday in Marawi City, Philippines, has left four people dead and fifty injured, Associated Press (AP) reported.
The blast took place during a Mass in the university gymnasium, attended by students and teachers, according to the AP. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has strongly condemned the attack, attributing it to foreign terrorists. The bomb was believed to be made from a mortar round. It caused panic as students and teachers fled the gymnasium. The injured were quickly transported to hospitals, with six in critical condition. Regional military commander Maj. Gen. Gabriel Viray III confirmed the casualties, including three women among the deceased.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists upon the Mindanao State University,” President Marcos Jr. said in a statement, per the AP. “Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society.” (RELATED: Video Shows Gazan Catholics Terrified After Bomb Explodes Outside Church)
A powerful explosion believed caused by a bomb ripped through a Catholic Mass and killed at least four people and wounded dozens of others in the southern Philippines, officials said. https://t.co/pQ0qpTOY70
— ABC News (@ABC) December 3, 2023
General Romeo Brawner Jr., the military chief of staff, linked the attack to a recent successful operation against suspected Islamic militants in Maguindanao province. “We are looking at possible angles,” Brawner said, per the AP. “It could be a retaliatory attack.”
“This is clearly an act of terrorism. It’s not a simple feud between two people. A bomb will kill everybody around,” the security chief of the state-run campus Taha Mandangan told The Associated Press by telephone, per the New York Post.
Marawi City has a history of conflict with Islamic militants, including a significant 2017 siege by groups associated with the Islamic State, per the AP. This resulted in over 1,100 deaths. The city, known for its mosques, has since been under close surveillance by Philippine forces.
In response to the bombing, security measures have been heightened across the country, especially in metropolitan Manila, as the Christmas season approaches, the AP reported. The Philippine coast guard has also intensified its security protocols, including stricter inspections and enhanced intelligence gathering.