Responding to reports that at least four people were killed and dozens wounded after an explosion at a Catholic mass in the southern Philippine city of Marawi on 3 December, Amnesty International Philippines Researcher Jerrie Abella said:
“The sickening bomb attack at a university in Marawi City is gut-wrenching. The attack was even more alarming as it happened at a school gymnasium where students and other worshippers had gathered for a Catholic mass.
“In light of escalating violence in the area, the government must do more to protect the right to life of all people in the Philippines. It also has the obligation to carry out independent, transparent and thorough investigations and attempt to hold perpetrators to account in trials that meet international standards, without recourse to the death penalty.
“As the search for suspects intensifies, the government response to violent incidents like this must also be in line with international human rights law and standards.”
At around 7:00 am on 3 December, an explosion rocked the gymnasium of Mindanao State University in Marawi City, killing at least 4 people and injuring some 40 others. Over 30 of those injured have been released from hospitals; several remain in critical condition.
Government officials have yet to identify the perpetrators, but President Bongbong Marcos has said “foreign terrorists” could be behind the attack, and the Islamic State has reportedly taken credit. Authorities say they have identified suspects and are conducting a “massive operation” searching for them.
A military official has described it as the “most violent attack” in the city since the five-month-long Marawi siege in 2017 that left hundreds of people killed. It came less than a week after increasing tensions in southern Philippines, including in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Sur where the military killed at least 12 members of armed groups, according to the military.