A deadly explosion rocked a Catholic mass service at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City, Philippines, on Sunday.
ISIS claims responsibility for deadly explosion at Philippine university, stating that its fighters detonated an explosive device during a large gathering of Christian worshippers.
The blast resulted in at least four fatalities, and dozens of others sustained injuries. The university gym, where the mass service was held, witnessed severe damage, with images showing soldiers and emergency workers amidst debris.
A communique from ISIS, as reported by the SITE Intelligence Group, affirmed the group's involvement in the attack. The international counterterrorism organization tracks the online activities of extremist groups and revealed the contents of the ISIS statement.
Detonated an explosive device on a large gathering of Christian disbelievers in Marawi City.- A communique from ISIS
In response to the tragedy, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. condemned the attack as "senseless and most heinous," attributing it to foreign terrorists. He expressed solidarity with the victims and deployed additional security personnel to assist in the aftermath.
The United States also condemned the "horrific terrorist attack," pledging support to the Philippines.
State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller stated that the U.S. is in close contact with Philippine partners and stands with the people of the Philippines against this act of violence.
The United States is in close contact with our Philippine partners and stands with the people of the Philippines in rejecting this act of violence.- State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller
Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines, has been a historical hotspot for Islamist insurgent groups.
While the Philippines is predominantly Catholic, Mindanao is home to a significant Muslim population, contributing to the complex socio-religious landscape.
In 2017, ISIS-affiliated militants laid siege to Marawi for five months. The violence led to the displacement of over 350,000 residents, showcasing the challenges faced by the Philippine forces in liberating the city from extremist control.
Following the recent attack, the Philippine government, in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, has heightened security measures in the southern regions and around the capital, Manila. President Marcos Jr. emphasized the ongoing efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society.- Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro acknowledged "strong indications of a foreign element" in the bombing. Fragments of a 60-mm mortar were recovered at the scene, prompting speculation about the involvement of international actors.
The attack in Marawi followed a series of military operations against local pro-ISIS groups in the southern Philippines.
A recent operation resulted in the killing of a leader of the Dawlah Islamiya-Maute group, raising concerns about potential retaliatory actions.
Lanao Del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. visits the injured at a hospital following an explosion during a Catholic Mass in a gymnasium at Mindanao State University, in Marawi, Philippines, December 3, 2023. Lanao Del Sur Provincial Government/Handout via REUTERS
Mindanao State University expressed deep sorrow and condemnation for the violence that occurred during the religious gathering.
The university announced the suspension of classes until further notice, emphasizing its commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of its community.
In Rome, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims during his Sunday address, urging a turn from violence and a commitment to overcoming evil with good.
The international community, including the United States, expressed solidarity with the Philippines and condemned the terrorist act.
As investigations continue into the motives and individuals behind the attack, the Philippines faces the challenging task of addressing the complex dynamics of extremism in the region.
The global condemnation underscores the need for collaborative efforts to combat terrorism and protect vulnerable communities.