Manila, Dec 4 (EFE).- The United States condemned the attack during a Sunday Catholic mass in southern Philippines, which left at least four dead and 40 injured and was claimed by the Islamic State.
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms the horrific terrorist attack that occurred today during a Catholic service being held at Mindanao State University in Marawi, the Philippines,” read a statement by the US State Department. “We mourn those killed in the attack, and our thoughts are with the injured.”
The statement said Washington, a firm ally of the Philippines in defense and foreign policy, is in close contact with the Philippine government after the attack.
The explosion occurred Sunday at about 7:00 local time (GMT+8) in a gymnasium at the Mindanao State University in Marawi, where a mass was being attended by dozens of people, causing at least four deaths and 50 injuries so far.
Many of those in attendance were university students, local authorities said.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its Telegram social media account.
Hours before the Islamic State’s claim, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., accused “foreign terrorists” of carrying out the attack in Marawi, which in 2017 was the scene of clashes after Jihadists linked to the extremist organization partially took over the city.
For five months, the Philippine army fought the extremists street by street until they liberated the city, in a battle where more than 1,200 people died: 978 Jihadists, 168 soldiers and 87 civilians.
The southern island of Mindanao has a Muslim population of nearly 20 percent and has been the scene of conflicts between the government and various extremist groups for decades, including Jihadist organization Abu Sayaf and the Maute Group, both affiliated to the Islamic State. EFE