Armed Forces of the Philippines

Military says MSU bombing ‘mastermind’ killed in January operation

Bea Cupin

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Military says MSU bombing ‘mastermind’ killed in January operation

AFP operation. Troops inspect the war material recovered at the site of the encounter against the Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group on January 25 to 26 in Lanao del Sur.

AFP handout

Weeks after the operation took place, the AFP says it killed a leader of the Dawlah Islamiyah in an operation

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Monday, February 12, that military personnel killed during a January 2024 operation in Lanao del Sur Khadafi Mimbesa, the alleged mastermind of a deadly blast in Marawi City.

In a statement, the AFP said Mimbesa was a “perpetrator” of the bombing at the Marawi State University (MSU) campus which killed at least four and injured scores more.

Mimbesa, as well as “local terrorists and armed members of the Dawlah Islamiyah,” was killed during an operation from January 25 to 26 in Lanao del Sur led by the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army.

The AFP said Mimbesa’s identity was confirmed through a “surrendered terrorist” identified as “Khatab” who had yielded to the 2nd Mechanized Brigade only on February 11. The military said Khatab’s statements “corroborated the initial information on the demise of the DI-Maute Group Amir and the mastermind behind the MSU bombing.”

It was in early December 2023 that an explosion occurred at the MSU campus in Marawi City, just as Mass was being held in its gymnasium. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said “foreign terrorists” were behind the attack.

Islamic State militants eventually claimed responsibility for the bombing. Days after the blast, military and police said a man believed to be an accomplice in the deadly blast had been arrested.

Philippine security and defense officials earlier pointed to recent government campaigns against the ISIS-inspired terrorist Dawlah Islamiyah in different parts of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as a motive for bombing the MSU Marawi campus. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.