At least 36 people were wounded and one person was killed when an improvised bomb exploded during a Tuesday evening fiesta at a town in the troubled southern Philippines, according to a military report from the ground.
The injured included two soldiers who were guarding the local festivities in Isulan town, which is located in Sultan Kudarat province, authorities said.
Authorities saw a suspect about to leave an improvised bomb on a parked motorcycle as the mostly Muslim town was celebrating a one-week local festival called Hamungaya, according to Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the regional infantry division chief who quoted initial reports from the site.
“The perpetrator was seen and chased, but before he was caught the bomb exploded,” Sobejana said, adding that the man managed to drive near a bank and the municipal hall where the bomb exploded.
At least one person was “quite seriously injured,” he said.
Philippine Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon posted a message on Twitter saying “34 patients were transported to 4 nearby hospitals and our chapter provided five units of blood transfusion.”
Sobejana said troops and police in the area had been on heightened alert since a van packed with explosives went off at a roadblock in Basilan island also in the south, killing 11 people last month.
The Islamic State claimed that attack, saying a Moroccan militant had carried out the suicide bombing, but Philippine authorities have been skeptical about the claim. The number one suspect remains the Abu Sayyaf, a small but brutal Islamic group blamed for the worst attacks in the Philippines.
Days after the Basilan bombing, the military caught two Filipino militants from another group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as they allegedly tried to sneak a bomb past a military checkpoint and into the town of M’lang, also in the south.
The BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), once the country’s main separatist group, which agreed to a peace deal in 2014 to settle for limited autonomy.
In July, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law creating the autonomous region, but security analysts have said that violence would continue involving smaller, but more militant, groups.
Froilan Gallardo in Cagayan de Oro city, Philippines contributed to this report.