Marcos tags 'foreign terrorist' behind Mindanao State University bombing

Marcos tags 'foreign terrorist' behind Mindanao State University bombing
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PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has blamed "foreign terrorists" for the bloody bombing that occurred while a Catholic Mass was ongoing at Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City on Sunday morning, December 3, 2023.

In a statement, Marcos condemned the “terrorist attack,” which instantly claimed the lives of four people and wounded several others.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists upon the Mindanao State University (MSU) and Marawi communities early this Sunday morning. Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society,” Marcos said.

“I extend my most heartfelt condolences to the victims, their loved ones, and the communities that have been the target of this latest assault on peace. Government assistance to those impacted is ready and forthcoming,” he added.

Marcos said the government is now working closely with the regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) and concerned local government units for the immediate response in what he tagged as the “latest assault on peace.”

Marcos also assured the public to “bring the perpetrators of this senseless act to justice” as well as the imposition of intensified security operations to ensure the safety of their communities.

He urged the public to stay “calm, circumspect and conscientious to ensure that the horrific events are not further compounded by inaccurate, unvetted, and unofficial information.”

Meanwhile, in a press conference, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro stated that there is a 'strong indication' of a foreign element in the incident. However, he refused to divulge any information to avoid hampering the ongoing investigation, which aims to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent any further untoward incidents.

Out of the four persons who were killed in the bombing, three have already been identified, but Teodoro said investigators could not conclude yet about the identity and the possible involvement of the unidentified victim, who is a female person, in the incident.

“We cannot say so right now. The mere fact that she is unidentified does not lead us to conclude anything before she is properly identified, even speculation we cannot do that, we have to identify her first then backtrack,” he said.

For his part, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner said they see some similarities between this MSU bombing and the 2019 Jolo Cathedral suicide bombing, which killed more or less 20 people while over a hundred were wounded.

“Right now we are still conducting investigation but we see some similarities, just some similarities. We don’t want to conclude yet whether those who did the bombing in Jolo are the same people who did the bombing here in Marawi City,” he said.

Brawner said they are looking into the possible link between the recent gains of the military against the terrorist groups in the region to the bombing attack.

He said on December 1, 11 members of the Dawlah Islamiya (DI), including its declared amir, Abdullah Sapal, were killed in a military offensive in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur.

On December 2, Brawner said the AFP Western Mindanao Command’s Joint Task Force Orion launched an operation that resulted in the neutralization of Abu Sayyaf Leader Mundi Sawadjaan, who was among the brains behind the Jolo bombing and other terror activities in the province.

On Sunday morning, December 3, he said another operation was launched in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur, which resulted in the killing of a DI-Maute group sub-leader and the capture of another member of the group.

He said the MSU bombing could be a retaliatory attack following these operations.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief directorial staff, Lieutenant General Emmanuel Peralta said the Barmm Police Regional Office has been placed on full alert status while the rest of the PNP offices were under heightened alert including the Metro Manila to prevent any possible spillover.

He said the PNP will beef up community patrolling, intelligence operations, as well as the conduct of checkpoints following the incident.

Peralta said 50 persons were injured during the attack.

He said they will assess the situation on the ground and impose a suspension of license to carry firearms outside residence in Barmm if needed.

The police and military officials will fly to Marawi City on Monday, December 4, to oversee the situation.

The PNP and AFP both urged the public to be calm, vigilant and cooperate with the security measures being imposed by the law enforcement agencies.

Teodoro said the Department of Health and Department of Social Welfare and Development have deployed personnel in Marawi City, particularly for the psychological and mental welfare of those who were affected by the bombing, especially the wounded victims and their families as well as of the fatalities. (SunStar Philippines)


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