Authorities have blamed Islamic militants for a bomb explosion that killed three people and injured 36 others in the southern Philippines during a festival on Aug. 28. The bomb, placed inside a bag, exploded near the town hall in Isulan, a town in Sultan Kudarat province where a celebration was being held. "They took advantage of the festival," said Capt. Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the army's 6th Infantry Division. The military blamed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters
(BIFF) and Abu Sayyaf
, which have pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group. Cotabato Archdiocese condemned the bomb attack in a statement issued on Aug. 30. Father Clifford Baira, director of the archdiocese's Social Action Center, called on authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. "We strongly condemn the killing of innocent civilians
," said the priest. Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Mangudadatu has offered one-million pesos (about US$19,000) as a reward for information leading to the arrest of those behind the blast. "The bomb attack was a dastardly act by evil-minded persons," said the governor, adding that, "only God, not men, can take away human lives." The town of Isulan was celebrating the 61st anniversary of its founding when tragedy struck. "This bomb attack was part of the [terror group's] retaliation efforts against the military for losses they suffered at the hands of our troops," said Capt. Encinas. "It is unfortunate this retaliation did not spare innocent civilians," the military spokesman said.