Page last updated at 07:42 GMT, Sunday, 5 July 2009 08:42 UK

Bomb hits Philippine church-goers


Police and emergency services rushed to the scene

A bomb blast outside a Roman Catholic cathedral in the southern Philippines has killed five people and injured at least 26 others, officials say.

The military immediately blamed the attack in the town of Cotabato, Mindanao, on a militant group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The group has been fighting to establish a separate Islamic state.

One of its leaders denied any involvement in the attack, saying there was no religious conflict in the south.

The bomb went off outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception as people were leaving Mass, the army said.

Police told AFP news agency that two of the dead were soldiers guarding the cathedral.

Militant denial

A military spokesman, Col Jonathan Ponce, said rogue MILF militants were suspected of planting the bomb.

"The rebels are getting desperate and they are no longer choosing their targets," he said.

"They are now attacking even places of worship."

But a leader of the MILF, Mohaqher Iqbal, denied his group had been involved in the attack.

"Who needs a Christian-Muslim conflict?" he told Reuters news agency in a mobile phone text message.

"There's no religious conflict in the south. We're fighting for our right of self-determination. We're only defending our people and our communities."

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