updated 7/5/2009 12:00:23 AM ET 2009-07-05T04:00:23

Suspected Muslim guerrillas detonated a bomb near a Roman Catholic cathedral in the southern Philippines Sunday, killing at least one person and wounding more than two dozen others.

The bomb exploded outside the Immaculate Conception cathedral in Cotabato city as churchgoers walked out after attending Mass. One passer-by was killed instantly in the attack.

Cotabato city Mayor Muslimin Sema said up to 26 others were wounded, some of them seriously. The wounded included five soldiers who were passing by the cathedral in a van when the device exploded.

Maj. Gen. Alfredo Cayton immediately blamed the 11,500-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been targeted by a monthslong military offensive in nearby Maguindanao province and outlying regions.

"Nobody has the motive, the capability and the track record to carry out this terrorist attack except the lawless MILF group," Cayton told The Associated Press by telephone.

There were no immediate reaction from the rebels, who have waged a decades-long battle for self-rule in the southern Mindanao region, homeland of minority-Muslims in this predominantly Roman Catholic nation.

Malaysian-brokered peace talks between the government and the rebels collapsed last year when a preliminary deal on an expanded Muslim autonomous region fell apart, sparking new deadly clashes that have displaced large numbers of villagers.

Cotabato city has been hit by deadly bombings in the past.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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