Twin bomb blasts in a central Philippine town where thousands had gathered to watch a boxing match has injured 35 people. The explosions rocked Hilongos town in Leyte Wednesday night when celebrations were underway as part of a traditional Roman Catholic festival.
The first cellphone-triggered improvised explosive device (IED) went off at around 9:30 pm at Rizal Plaza in the town, Hilongos Mayor Alberto Villahermosa said.
Five of the injured were in serious condition while the rest of the others were hit below the knee. The injured include a pregnant woman, local authorities said. The victims were rushed to hospitals in Southern Leyte.
While the first explosion was destructive, the second wasn't as the IED was not assembled properly. No group has taken responsibility for the attack and the police are investigating. Philippines, which is fighting a strident Islamic militancy in the south, had issued an elevated alert around Christmas.
On the Christmas eve, at east 16 people were injured in a blast outside a Catholic church in the southern Philippines. The attack targeting Christians took place in Midsayap town, which is located in the middle of the large island of Mindanao. The territory is a stronghold of Muslim rebels and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Last year, as many as 15 people were killed in Christmas day attacks by Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines.
Central Philippines is not a sphere of influence for the Islamic militants, but Abu Sayyaf and other factions affiliated to the Islamic State group have targeted the capital Manila and other major cities in the past.
"This is the first time that has happened in this town," Mayor Villahermosa said, according to CNN Philippines.