Shalimar Sani-Rakiin : “Bomb Explodes at University Gymnasium in Southern Philippines, Killing Four”

Death – Obituary – Accident and Crime News : Foreign militants are believed to have planted a bomb that exploded in a university gymnasium during a Catholic Mass in the southern Philippine city of Marawi. The blast resulted in at least four deaths and dozens of injuries, according to police and military officials. The incident occurred at 7:30 a.m. at Mindanao State University, an area that remains restricted due to the presence of unexploded ordnance left behind by militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) in 2017. A five-month-long battle ensued, resulting in the deaths of over 1,200 militants, soldiers, police, and civilians before the military regained control of the enclave.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. condemned the attack, stating, “Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society.” He expressed his condolences to the victims and their loved ones, assuring them that government assistance is ready and forthcoming.

Shalimar Sani-Rakiin, the medical chief of Amai Pakpak Medical Center, reported that four people were pronounced dead and seven others sustained serious injuries. Approximately 40 individuals were treated for less severe injuries and later released. A university student who witnessed the incident described the chaos that ensued after the bomb detonated during the first Bible reading.

Marawi and other parts of the southern Philippines have been a stronghold for Muslims in the predominantly Catholic nation. The region has experienced numerous violent uprisings by Islamic militant groups throughout the years.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. suggested that the attack may be a retaliatory strike for a government offensive that resulted in the deaths of 11 militants from the local Daulah Islamiyah cell. However, investigators have not yet named any specific suspects.

The international community expressed condemnation and solidarity following the attack. Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. emphasized the importance of condemning terroristic attacks on educational institutions, as they promote peace and shape the future of the country. European Union Ambassador Luc Veron and U.S. Ambassador MaryKay Carlson both extended their condolences and called for the perpetrators to be held accountable.

The 11 militants killed on Friday have been identified as members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a group that openly supports IS and has been implicated in various attacks. However, they were not linked to the Marawi attack led by the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups. Notably, Isnilon Hapilon, a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf, was considered the first IS leader in Southeast Asia and was killed during the 2017 battle.

As authorities continue to investigate the incident, the university issued a statement expressing deep sorrow and vowing to work closely with law enforcement authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. Foreign diplomats also sent messages of condolences and support, emphasizing the need to condemn violence in educational institutions.

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