New Delhi, Dec 3: Tragedy struck during a Catholic Mass on Sunday morning in the southern Philippines, as an explosion claimed the lives of four individuals and left 42 others injured. The incident unfolded at the gymnasium of Mindanao State University in Marawi.
Authorities reported that the situation is now “under control,” with 42 individuals sustaining mostly minor injuries. Marawi, previously marred by a five-month battle in 2017 between government forces and militants linked to the Islamic State group, was once again thrust into turmoil.
Brigadier General Allan Nobleza, the police commander in the region, suggested that the Daulah Islamiyah-Maute Group might be responsible for the bombing. He noted that 11 members of the group had encountered the Philippine Army last Friday in a nearby town, hinting at the possibility of retaliation through the Sunday explosion.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr condemned the blast as a “senseless and most heinous” act, attributing it to “foreign terrorists,” although he did not provide further details. He assured the public that justice would be served and appealed for calm.
The timing of the Mass compounded the tragedy, as Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, the Catholic Church’s four-week vigil leading to Christmas Day. Mass attendance across the Philippines was higher than usual, reflecting the country’s predominantly Catholic population of nearly 80%, where makeshift locations, such as school gymnasiums, are often utilized for Sunday Mass in areas without churches.