Marawi university gym explosion kills three


December 3, 2023 | 9:42am

MANILA, Philippines  (Update 1, 10:23 a.m.) — At least three people were killed when an explosion ripped through at a gymnasium in Mindanao State University in Marawi City, media agencies reported Sunday.

The explosion took place while a Catholic Mass was being held at the university gymnasium, injuring at least seven people, according to radio DZBB. 

In a statement, MSU said it is “deeply saddened and appalled by the act of violence.”

“We unequivocally condemn in the strongest possible terms this senseless and horrific act and extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families,” the state university said.

Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. also denounced the “bombing” and called on the authorities to investigate the incident. 

“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 mold our youth to be the future shapers of this country,” he said. 

The explosion occurred six years after the Muslim-majority city of Marawi was besieged by groups affiliated with the Islamic State for five months. 

Probe underway

In an interview with DZBB, Police BGen Allan Nobleza, regional director of the Bangsamoro police, said that authorities are investigating a range of motives, including the possible retaliation by ISIS-inspired group Dawlah Islamiyah. 

Eleven members of the terrorist group, including its self-proclaimed leader, were killed in military operations in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur Friday. 

Nobleza said that authorities are closely monitoring crowded areas, and intensifying checkpoint and patrol operations. 

MSU said that it has suspended classes until further notice and deployed additional security personnel to safeguard the campus. 

“Our immediate priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of all constituents, particularly our Christian community. We are aware of the heightened sensitivities and concerns that arise from such a tragic event, and we want to assure everyone that we are taking every measure possible to protect our students, faculty, and staff,” it said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico


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