06 December 2023, The Tablet

Islamists claim responsibility for Philippines Mass bombing


Pope Francis prayed “to Christ the Prince of Peace to grant to all the strength to turn from violence and overcome every evil with good”.


Islamists claim responsibility for Philippines Mass bombing

Victims of the bomb attack on a university Mass are treated in hospital.
Associated Press / Alamy

At least four people were killed and dozens wounded in a bomb attack on a Mass in the insurgency-plagued southern Philippine island of Mindanao last Sunday.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr immediately blamed “foreign terrorists” and Islamic State claimed responsibility later the same day.

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, president of Caritas Philippines, said that “concerted efforts must be made to prevent the recurrence of such violent incidents and to safeguard the fundamental right to worship without fear”. 

Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims during his Sunday Angelus 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”.

The attack hit a Mass celebrated in Mindanao State University’s gymnasium in Marawi, the country's largest Muslim city.

More than 90 per cent of the Philippines’ 100 million people are Christian, but in Mindanao Muslims are in the majority. 

The university said in a statement it was “deeply saddened and appalled by the act of violence that occurred during a religious gathering and we unequivocally condemn in the strongest possible terms this senseless and horrific act”.  It suspended classes until further notice.

“We stand in solidarity with our Christian community and all those affected by this tragedy,” the university said.

Security officials said the bombing may have been a retaliatory attack for a series of military operations against Islamist militant groups in the week before.

Marawi city Mayor Majul Gandamra said: “Our city has long been a beacon of peaceful coexistence and harmony, and we will not allow such acts of violence to overshadow our collective commitment to peace and unity.”

Militant attacks on buses, Catholic churches and public markets have been a feature of decades-long unrest in the region. Manila signed a pact with the nation's largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in 2014, but smaller bands of fighters opposed to the peace deal remain, including militants professing allegiance to the Islamic State group.


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