This morning in the Filipino town of Cotabato City, a bomb was detonated near the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, killing at least five people and wounding some 34 others. After praying the Angelus at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his "deep rejection" of the attack and prayed for the victims.
The Holy Father explained that the attack is being attributed to Muslim extremists by the local police. The Pope told the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, "the explosion of a bomb in front of the cathedral (Cotabato) during the celebration of Sunday Mass, has caused several deaths and numerous injuries, including some women and children."
"While praying for the victims of this ignoble gesture, I raise my voice once again to condemn the use of violence, which is never a decent way to solve problems," he added.
Hundreds of churchgoers remained inside the cathedral after the powerful explosion, praying even more fervently for “peace.” The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said that Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo was delivering his homily when the incident occurred, causing panic among churchgoers.
Rolando Emberga, a churchgoer, said some rushed to go out of the church, but Archbishop Quevedo tried to calm things down, the CBCP reports.
Emberga said the blast was extremely loud and that people inside the church were screaming.
Four people, including two soldiers, died instantly in the attack and a fifth victim died at the hospital, according to local police reports.