Pope Francis prays for victims of Marawi bombing

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Pope Francis prays for victims of Marawi bombing
Pope Francis presides the weekly general audience at Paul-VI hall in The Vatican on November 29, 2023.
AFP / Tiziana Fabi

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 9:32 a.m.) — Pope Francis conveyed a message of assurance to the victims of a deadly bombing at a Catholic Mass in Marawi City that killed at least four people and wounded 50 others. 

“I wish to assure my prayer for the victims of the attack that occurred this morning in the Philippines, where a bomb exploded during Mass,” Pope Francis said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter. 

“I am close to the families and the people of Mindanao, who have already suffered so much,” he added. 

The blast from an improvised explosive device occurred during a regular morning service at the gymnasium of the Mindanao State University Sunday. The Islamic State group claimed its members had detonated the bomb.

In a telegram addressed to Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña through Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, the Pope said that he was “deeply saddened” upon learning about the injuries and loss of life resulting from the bombing. 

Pope Francis concluded his message with “prayers that Christ the Prince of Peace will grant to all the strength to turn from violence and overcome every evil with good.”

The United Imams of the Philippines Foundation, Inc. condemned the “apparently vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent individuals.”

“Terrorizing innocent people and shedding blood, constitute a form of injustice that cannot be tolerated by Islam, which views them as gross crimes and sinful acts,” it said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. condemned the “senseless and most heinous acts” and attributed the bombing to “foreign terrorists.” 

Defense Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said there were “strong” indications pointing to the involvement of a “foreign element” in the bomb attack. He, however, refrained from disclosing information.

The police and the military said that they are investigating whether the blast may have been a revenge attack for recent military operations against Islamist militant groups such as Dawlah Islamiyah-Philippines, Abu Sayyaf, and Maute. 

For the Council for Climate and Conflict Action Asia, it is too early to make conclusions or assign blame to any individual or group at this time. 

“We also call for calm and reflection amid attempts to polarize the situation and sow the seeds of a Muslim-Christian conflict,” the group said. — with report from Agence France-Presse

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