3rd December 2023 – (Manila) A devastating explosion tore through the gymnasium of Mindanao State University on Sunday morning, claiming the lives of at least four individuals and injuring 50 others, according to local military and police authorities.
The blast occurred shortly after 7am local time, during a Catholic mass attended by students and teachers inside the gym, as reported by local police officials.
Major General Gabriel Viray, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, confirmed that among the victims were three females and one male.
However, local media outlet GMA Network has reported a higher death toll of 11, citing information from a source at a local hospital.
Authorities suspect that the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device.
Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos condemned the deadly bombing and attributed it to “foreign terrorists.”
During a press conference on Sunday afternoon, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro expressed that there were strong indications of a foreign element involved in the attack.
Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), General Romeo Brawner, stated that the military is actively gathering intelligence to pursue the perpetrators.
Mindanao State University issued a statement condemning the “senseless and horrific act,” expressing deep sadness and shock over the violence.
The university has decided to suspend classes indefinitely and has deployed additional security personnel to ensure the safety of the campus in Marawi City, the capital and largest city of Lanao del Sur on Mindanao island.
In 2017, the city of Marawi fell under the control of local terrorist groups pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, including factions of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute Group. The occupation lasted for five months, resulting in over 1,200 fatalities, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of residents, and extensive damage to the city.