By Enyichukwu Enemanna
No fewer than three persons have been reportedly killed while seven others were injured, after a bomb attack in a Catholic Church during a mass in the southern Philippines ravaged by insurgency on Sunday, officials said.
The blast happened during a regular service at Mindanao State University’s gymnasium in Marawi, the country’s largest Muslim city, regional police chief said.
“We’re investigating if it’s an IED or grenade throwing,” Allan Nobleza said, referring to an improvised explosive device.
In response, Mindanao State University in a statement denounced the development as “the act of violence”, suspending classes and deployed more security personnel on the campus.
“We stand in solidarity with our Christian community and all those affected by this tragedy,” the university said in the statement.
Photos posted on the Lanao del` Sur provincial government’s Facebook page showed Governor Mamintal Adiong visiting “wounded victims of the bombing” at a medical facility, AFP report says.
It added that the incident came after the Philippine military launched an air strike on Friday, that killed 11 Islamist militants from the Dawlah Islamiyah-Philippines organisation in Mindanao.
The military on Saturday, said the group had been planning to mount attacks in Maguindanao del Sur province.
Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Sur are part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Militant attacks on buses, Catholic churches and public markets have been a feature of decades-long unrest in the region.
Manila signed a peace pact with the nation’s largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in 2014, ending their deadly armed rebellion.
But smaller bands of Muslim fighters opposed to the peace deal remain, including militants professing allegiance to the Islamic State group. Communist rebels also operate in the region.