Blast at Philippines university gym kills 3, wounds 9
At least three people died and 40 others were injured after a bomb ripped through the Dimaporo Gym inside the Mindanao State University (MSU) campus in Marawi City early Sunday, authorities said.
Lanao del Sur police chief Colonel Robert Daculan said the blast happened at 7 a.m. amid a Catholic Holy Mass, mostly attended by students.
Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Palawan Miondas said the initial report they received showed that 43 people were rushed to the Amai Pakpak Medical Center for treatment of wounds and one was declared dead on arrival.
A Reuters report said three people were killed.
Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police director Brigadier General Allan Nobleza told reporters that authorities are investigating the explosion and that one angle being pursued was possible revenge by pro-Islamic State militants.
The Philippine military said Saturday they killed 11 militants, including members of the Dawlah Islamiyah-Philippines, a pro-Islamic State group, in a military operation the day before in Maguindanao del Sur province.
Islamist militants besieged Marawi City for five months in 2017.
Moro leaders strongly condemned the bombing that struck a congregation of Christian faithful holding a Holy Mass inside the gym.
“I condemn the violent bombing incident that transpired this morning at the Dimaporo Gymnasium at the Mindanao State University during a Sunday mass congregation,” Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Alonto-Adiong said in a statement.
“Here in my province, we uphold basic human rights, and that includes the right to religion. Terroristic attacks on educational institutions must also be condemned because these are places that promote the culture of peace and mould our youth to be the future shapers of this country,” Adiong added.
“To the families of those whose lives were lost in this senseless act of violence and terrorism, please accept our deepest condolences and sympathies. We will make sure justice will be served,” he further said.
The governor urged the security sector “to get to the bottom of this immediately.”
Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman also condemned the recent atrocity in Marawi.
This is plain and simple terrorism. We have no other words to describe the violence done to students who were peacefully holding mass earlier, a free expression of their religion," Hataman said.
"Our condolences to the families of those who died in this incident. Our children should not become targets of violence. Our schools are not battle zones. Parents should be assured that their children are safe in school," he also said.
“I call on the authorities to investigate this fully, leaving no stone unturned. The perpetrators should be unmasked,” Hataman added, vowing to closely monitor the developments of this case to ensure justice for the victims and their families.
BARMM Member of Parliament Amir Mawallil likewise denounced the brazen attack and offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
“MSU is home to both Muslims and Christians alike. Our students should not be living in fear inside our schools, colleges and universities. This is the sad reality that we need to address,” he said in a statement.
“I offer my condolences to the families of those who died in this act of terrorism, and I urge the BARMM police to thoroughly investigate this case and bring the perpetrators to justice,” Mawallil added.
Richel V. Umel
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Asia News Network