Terror strikes Marawi, Philippines: IS terrorists bomb catholic mass, multiple dead and injured
In a harrowing turn of events, Islamic State (IS) terrorists have claimed responsibility for a devastating bombing at a Catholic Mass in the Philippines. The attack, which occurred in a university gymnasium in Marawi, a city previously besieged by Islamist militants, has left at least four people dead and injured over 50 others.
The Islamic State group, a known terror entity in the country’s south, announced on Telegram that its members were behind this heinous act. This revelation followed a statement by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who condemned the attack as “senseless and most heinous,” attributing it to foreign terrorists. Following the attack, police and military forces have ramped up security across the country’s south and in Manila.
In a heartfelt response, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims during his Sunday address. He also issued a written message, calling on “Christ the prince of peace” to empower everyone to “turn from violence and overcome every evil with good.”
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, in a press conference, assured that law enforcement operations to apprehend the perpetrators of this “terrorist activity” will be relentless. The recovered fragments of a 16-mm mortar at the scene point to the sophistication of the attack, as per senior police official Emmanuel Peralta.
The blast in Marawi, the capital of Lanao del Sur province, followed several military operations against local pro-Islamic State groups in the southern Philippines. The Armed Forces Chief, Romeo Brawner, speculated that the attack could be a retaliatory act in response to recent military successes against the Dawlah Islamiya-Maute group.
The Islamic State-linked Maute had seized Marawi in May 2017, intending to establish a Southeast Asian “wilayat” or governorate for Islamic State. The five-month-long conflict resulted in over a thousand deaths, including civilians.
Images and videos circulating on social media, including those shared by the Lanao del Sur government and DZBB radio, show the aftermath of the blast, highlighting the severity of the attack. The Mindanao State University, where the bombing occurred, has expressed its deep sorrow and condemnation of this act of violence, suspending classes until further notice.
Police forces in Mindanao and the capital region are on high alert, with tightened security at checkpoints to prevent further incidents. The coast guard has also intensified inspections at ports in response to the attack.