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ISIS Claims Responsibility for Deadly Philippine Bombing of Church Service

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The Islamic terror group ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Catholic worship service Sunday in the Philippines.

At least four people died and dozens more were injured when the bomb exploded during mass in a gymnasium at Mindanao State University.

Police Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta told reporters that military and police bomb experts found fragments of a 60mm mortar round at the scene of the attack.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists upon the Mindanao State University," President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said in a statement. "Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society."

Several Islamic militant groups are based on Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines.

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slider img 2Philippines Military Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said 11 suspected Islamic militants were killed Friday in a military offensive backed by airstrikes and artillery fires on Friday near Datu Hoffer town in southern Maguindanao province.

The military launched the offensive Friday after receiving intelligence about the whereabouts of suspected leaders and armed followers of the Dawla Islamiyah and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, or the BIFF, groups near the village of Tuwayan in southern Datu Hofer town in Maguindanao province, military officials said.

Troops also recovered seven M16 and M14 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and five homemade bombs from the scene.  There were no military casualties.

After decades of debilitating armed hostilities, the Philippine government signed a 2014 peace pact with the largest Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in the south of the largely Catholic nation. That considerably eased armed insurgency-related clashes and violence in the south.

However, smaller Muslim separatist groups have continued to wage attacks, including sporadic bombings in public areas, and at times targeting businesses in return for "protection money" from the owners, the military previously said.

The BIFF, which the military operation targeted Friday, consists of militants who defected from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front following the peace talks with the government. It further split into a few factions, from which some aligned themselves with the Islamic State group.

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