HomeWorld News'Foreign terrorists behind deadly bombings in Philippines'

Manila:

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. condemned a deadly bombing on Sunday and blamed it on “foreign terrorists”, as police and the military tightened security in the south of the country and around the capital, Manila.

At least four people were killed and at least 50 injured after a bomb exploded during morning Catholic Mass at a university gymnasium in Marawi, a city in the south of the country that was besieged by militants for five months in 2017.

“I condemn in the strongest terms the senseless and most heinous acts committed by foreign terrorists,” Marcos said in a statement. “Extremists who commit violence against innocents will always be considered enemies of our society.”

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro told a news conference that the law enforcement operation “will continue unabated” to bring perpetrators of “terrorist activity” to justice.

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

Senior police officer Emmanuel Peralta told a press conference that 16 mm mortar fragments were recovered at the scene.

high alert

The military chief said the explosion in Marawi, the capital of Lanao del Sur province, followed a series of military operations against local Islamic State pro-groups in the southern Philippines, including an explosion on Sunday in Lanao del Sur that caused a Died. Leader of Daula Islamia-Maute group.

“It is possible that what happened this morning was a retaliatory attack,” armed forces chief Romeo Browder told a news conference.

The Islamic State-linked Maute seized Marawi in May 2017, seeking to make it a Southeast Asian “wilayat” – or governorate – for the Islamic State. In the ensuing five-month battle, combatants and Philippine forces killed more than a thousand people, including civilians.

According to images shared by the Lanao del Sur government on Facebook, military officers surveyed the gym at Mindanao State University, which was intact except for a burn mark in the center where the explosion occurred. White plastic chairs were scattered about.

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Video posted on X by DZBB radio showed rescue workers 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 were tightened “to prevent possible follow-up incidents,” police officer Peralta said.

The Coast Guard directed its districts to intensify pre-departure inspections at ports.

Mindanao State University is “deeply saddened and horrified by the incident of violence that occurred during a religious gathering,” the school posted on Facebook. “We unequivocally condemn this senseless and appalling act in the strongest possible terms.”

The university said it was suspending classes until further notice.

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