A bomb went off Saturday afternoon during a volleyball game at a covered court in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, killing one person and injuring seven others.
The fatality was identified as Norodin Musa, 21, who died while being treated at the hospital.
Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar of the 6th Infantry Division told ABS-CBN that the blast could have been a diversionary attack by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
"It (blast) may be a diversionary attack because of our ongoing combat operation against them. They are cornered and are hurt and many of them are surrendering so they want the military focus diverted," Baldomar said.
Another possibility, Baldomar said, was that enemies of the volleyball game's organizers may have carried out the attack, as they had received death threats weeks before the game.
Finally, he said the attack may have also been politically motivated.
"Datu Piang is a hotspot when it comes to elections... In a few days, the filing of candidacy starts so this could be a demolition job," he said.
Datu Piang Mayor Victor Samama said most of the victims belonged to the LGBTQ+ community.
The town has been frequented by ISIS-inspired Dawlah Islamiyah guerrillas.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Sunday directed the Police Regional Office Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO BAR) to conduct a thorough investigation into the explosion in Maguindanao.
Eleazar also instructed the local police to coordinate with the military in identifying and arresting the perpetrators of the attack.
Authorities were still checking if the suspects had used a phone-triggered improvised explosive device in the attack.
Eleazar, meanwhile, called on residents in the area to immediately report to authorities if they noticed any actions that could pose threats in the community, noting that information from citizens has been helpful to the police in preventing atrocities.
Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu on Sunday denounced the attack. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
"We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the treacherous terrorist attack in Datu Piang where at least eight people, including a 13-year old boy, were injured. This act is an affront not only to the people of Maguindanao but to all humanity," he said.
Terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization, or ethnic group, he said.
"All acts, methods and practices of terrorism, cannot or should be justified under any circumstances,” he said.
“Destruction or killing one’s life is not the solution to express what we are fighting for. Let us unite against terrorism or acts of terrorism that directly undermine peace and security, and endanger our ongoing efforts in the Bangsamoro region,” he added.