Terrorists eyed in MSU bombing

Mark Ernest Villeza - The Philippine Star
Terrorists eyed in MSU bombing
Lanao Del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. looks on as law enforcement officers investigate the scene of an explosion that occurred during a Catholic Mass in a gymnasium at Mindanao State University in Marawi, Philippines, December 3, 2023.
Provincial Government of Lanao Del Sur / Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Authorities are eyeing the involvement of a terrorist group in the explosion that killed four people and left 45 injured during a Catholic mass inside the Mindanao State University (MSU) gymnasium in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur yesterday morning.

In a phone interview with reporters, Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza said the explosion occurred at the MSU’s Dimaporo Gymnasium during the mass at 7:40 a.m.

Nobleza, director of the Police Regional Office in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said probers were still trying to determine whether an improvised explosive device (IED) or a grenade was used. 

“Our EOD K9 from Lanao del Sur is still investigating the incident,” Nobleza said, referring to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Canine Group.

The identities of the casualties have yet to be released.

Probers are trying to determine if the attack is connected to the killing of 11 members of terrorist group Dawlah Islamiyah in Maguindanao, including its declared leader Abdullah Sapal, on Dec. 1.

Nobleza said the presence of the Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute group has been reported in Lanao del Sur.

The MSU announced that classes have been suspended until further notice. 

The university administration said they are working closely with local authorities and law enforcement to ensure the safety of the campus.


President Marcos said that police and armed forces have been directed “to ensure the protection and safety of civilians and the security of affected and vulnerable communities.”

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Maj. Gen. Gabriel Viray III, chief of the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said in an interview that the bombing incident was an act of terror.

“As of now, we don’t have (a theory). But this is a terror act. Probably the Daulah Islamiyah Maute group since they are in Lanao del Sur but we are looking at the bomb signature to determine if the group was indeed behind it,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Viray noted that there are around 41 remnants of the terrorist group in Lanao del Sur.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) expressed condolences and confirmed the four casualties and several wounded. 

In a statement, PNP public information office chief Col. Jean Fajardo said they are actively collaborating with local authorities.

“Our dedicated teams are on the ground, diligently working to establish the facts and identify the individuals or groups responsible for this despicable act,” Fajardo said.

The PNP also urged the public to refrain from spreading unverified information and allow investigative teams to complete their work. 

Philippine Coast Guard commandant Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan yesterday ordered all 15 PCG districts to implement strict security measures at all seaports. — John Unson, Neil Jayson Servallos, Evelyn Macairan, Mayen Jaymalin, Rainier Allan Ronda

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