Multiple Victims Killed in Catholic Mass Bombing

( – While the perpetrators are not yet known, police in the Philippines report that at least three people are dead after a bomb went off in a gym during a Catholic mass at a university in the nation’s south on December 3rd.

Accounts of the explosion are currently in conflict. Reuters reports that three people were killed, but a government spokesman has said the number of dead is four.

The blast took place at the gymnasium on the campus of Mindanao State University in the city of Marawi. The city is located on the island of Mindanao, also the name of that Philippine province. “This is clearly an act of terrorism,” Taha Mandagan, the university’s head of security, told the Associated Press.

Investigators speculate that Islamic militants may have been behind the explosion, as the island of Mindanao is close to the borders of Indonesia and Malaysia, and Mindanao is known to be home to Islamic terrorist groups with a grievance against the Philippine government.

According to wire reports, at least nine people were injured in addition to those who were killed. Victims of the blast were left lying on the ground covered in blood.

Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., a now-retired general in the Philippine army, published a statement calling the attack “horrendous,” and highlighting that it targeted Catholic worshippers during the province’s “Week of Peace.” Galvez Jr. is an advisor to the country’s president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. He called those behind the bombing “lawless elements” who used “ruthless methods” to throw the population into fear and disarray.

Mindanao University wrote on Facebook that the school is “deeply saddened” and “appalled” by the violence directed at a religious gathering. All classes will be suspended indefinitely, according to the statement.

The country’s military suspects the bombing may have come in response to a military air attack that occurred two days before the university bombing. The Philippine military targeted the Islamist Dawlah Islamiyah-Phillipines group and killed 11 of its militant fighters. Military officials said the Islamist group had been planning to attack civilians in the Maguindanao del Sur province, and they are investigating whether there is a connection between those plans, the military strike on Friday, and the bombing at the university on Sunday.

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