COTABATO, Philippines, (AFP) - Five people were killed and at least 34 wounded in a bomb attack allegedly by Muslim activists outside a Catholic church in the strife-torn southern Philippines Sunday, officials claimed. Regional military spokesman Lt-Col Jonathan Ponce was quick to blame the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the blast. MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu however was quick to deny the accusation, saying attacking civilians was against Islamic principles. The army has already blamed us even as an investigation into the bombing is yet to be carried out, Kabalu said by telephone from the south. He said the bombing could also be the work of right-wing saboteurs opposed to any possible resumption of peace talks. A lone suspect left a homemade device outside the Immaculate Conception cathedral in Cotabato city which exploded just as the congregation was leaving early morning mass, officials said. The church was not heavily damaged as a restaurant across the street appeared to have absorbed much of the impact, witnesses said. Ordnance experts searched for clues among blood-spattered debris on the road outside the church. Police said four people, including two soldiers, were killed at the scene, while another died of his injuries in hospital. Many of the wounded were women and children, according to Froi Cordero, a priest who helped bring the casualties to hospital. The president directed security forces to get to the bottom of the blast, arrest those responsible as soon as possible. and ensure security in the city of about 200,000, her spokesman Cerge Remonde said. Arroyos chief adviser for the south, Jesus Dureza, described the bombing as an act of terrorism and a murderous act of insanity. Pope Benedict XVI also denounced the bombing. While praying to God for the victims of this heinous act, I once again condemn the recourse to violence which is never a just way to resolve existing problems, he said during Angelus prayers at Saint Peters in the Vatican. City police chief Superintendent Willie Dangane said no one had claimed responsibility for the attack but confirmed that the suspected bomber was arrested as he tried to bring another device into the church. Regional military spokesman Lt-Col Jonathan Ponce was quick to blame the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the blast. The special operations group of the MILF is behind this, Ponce said, adding that the MILF had carried out similar attacks in recent weeks. He said a bomb also allegedly planted by MILF activists exploded in the nearby town of Datu Piang late Saturday, wounding three people. They are getting desperate because of the military operations, Ponce said, stressing that the attacks were apparently meant to divert military attention. The military said it had received intelligence reports earlier indicating that the MILF was to carry out bomb attacks in major cities in Mindanao, the main southern island where they have been fighting for an independent Islamic state for the past three decades.