POLICE have identified two persons of interest in the bloody Mindanao State University (MSU) bombing on Sunday morning, December 3, 2023, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PRO-Barmm) Director Brigadier General Allan Nobleza said.
The bombing killed four persons, while 45 others were wounded.
Of the wounded persons, 35 were already released from the hospital as they only sustained minor injuries while 10 were still confined, including five who were in critical condition.
Nobleza, in a television interview on Monday, December 4, said that of the two persons of interest, one was pointed as a local terrorist.
“That is one of the angles that we are looking into (involvement of local terrorist). Meron kaming mga person of interest but investigation is still ongoing, so in order not to preempt the investigation, we will not divulge the names,” he said.
Nobleza said the post-blast investigation being conducted by the Special Investigation Task Group is ongoing.
Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of the public affairs office Colonel Xerxes Trinidad said they are validating the claims made by the Islamic State that it is responsible for the terror attack, which was done while a Catholic mass was ongoing.
He said they are also looking into the involvement of the Daulah Islamiyah (DI).
“The AFP is on heightened alert to ensure the safety of the public and that the perpetrators responsible will be apprehended and/or neutralized,” Trinidad said.
“The AFP remains committed to its mandate of protecting the people and the state from all various threat groups, foreign and domestic,” he added.
He said they are looking into the bomb signature to identify the group behind the incident.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief directorial staff, Lieutenant General Emmanuel Peralta earlier said that investigators have gathered fragments of 60-mm mortar in the crime scene.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier tagged “foreign terrorists” as behind the MSU bombing, which happened on Sunday morning, December 3.
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro also said that there is a “strong indication” of foreign element in the incident but he refused to divulge any information so as not to hamper the ongoing investigation, which is aimed at bringing the perpetrators to justice, as well as to prevent any more possible untoward incident.
The United States (US), Japan, Canada, Australia, France, the European Union and Israel condemned the incident.
The US said it is in close contact with its Philippine counterparts and stands with Filipinos in rejecting such “horrific terrorist attacks.”
The Israel embassy in Manila tagged the incident as a “despicable act” against the Filipinos.
It expressed its condolences to the victims and their bereaved families. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)