IS militants claim responsibility for deadly Mindanao State University bombing

By: Reuters - | December 04,2023 - 10:04 AM

IS militants claim responsibility for deadly Mindanao State University bombing. In photo is the Mindanao State University. PHOTO FROM MSU/WEBSITE

Mindanao State University. PHOTO FROM MSU/WEBSITE

MANILA, Philippines — Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the deadly Mindanao State University bombing in Marawi City on Sunday.

The explosion killed at least four people and injured 50 others.

Islamic militants: Members detonated bomb

The bomb exploded during a Catholic Mass inside the university gymnasium in Marawi, which was besieged by Islamic State militants for five months in 2017.

The Islamic State group or the Islamic State militants, which wield influence in the country’s south, said on Telegram its members had detonated the explosive.

Earlier on Sunday, before Islamic State’s claim, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. condemned “the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists.” Police and the military strengthened security in the country’s south and around the capital Manila.

READ: PH military on high alert after calling Marawi bombing terrorism

Pope prays for victims

In Rome, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims during his Sunday address, and, in a separate written message, appealed to “Christ the prince of peace (to) grant to all the strength to turn from violence and overcome every evil with good”.

Law enforcement operations to bring to justice the perpetrators of the “terrorist activity” will “continue unabated,” Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro told a press conference.

There were “strong indications of a foreign element” in the bombing, Teodoro said, refusing to elaborate so as not to compromise ongoing investigation.

Fragments of a 16-mm mortar were recovered at the scene, senior police official Emmanuel Peralta told the press conference.

READ: Group says too early for gov’t to conclude who is behind MSU bombing

High alert after operations vs Islamic militants

The blast in Marawi, capital of Lanao del Sur province, followed a series of military operations against local pro-Islamic State groups in the southern Philippines, the military chief said.

One on Sunday in Lanao del Sur led to the killing of a leader of the Dawlah Islamiya-Maute group.

“It is possible that what happened this morning was a retaliatory attack,” Armed Forces Chief Romeo Brawner told the press conference.

READ: Abu Sayyaf bomb expert killed in Basilan military operation

2017 Marawi siege

The Islamic State-linked Maute seized Marawi on May 2017, seeking to make it a Southeast Asian “wilayat” – or governorate – for Islamic State.

In the ensuing five-month battle, Islamist fighters and Philippine forces killed more than a thousand people, including civilians.

READ: 11 terrorist killed in Army offensives in Maguindanao del Sur

Images shared by the Lanao del Sur government on Facebook showed military officials surveying the gym at the Mindanao State University where the blast occurred, which appeared intact except for burn marks in the centre.

Videos posted by DZBB radio on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, showed rescuers carrying injured people out of the gym on plastic chairs.

READ: Moro leaders condemn bombing at Mindanao State University in Marawi

MSU deeply saddened, appalled by act of violence

Police offices in Mindanao and the capital region were placed on high alert and police checkpoints tightened “to prevent possible follow-up incidents”, police official Peralta said.

The coast guard directed its districts to intensify pre-departure inspections at ports.

Mindanao State University said in a Facebook post it was “deeply saddened and appalled by the act of violence that occurred during a religious gathering”. “We unequivocally condemn in the strongest possible terms this senseless and horrific act.”

The university said it was suspending classes until further notice.

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TAGS: bombing, IS, Islamic State militants, Mindanao State University

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