Crackdown on Dawlah Islamiyah likely triggered MSU bombing, officials say

Ferdinandh Cabrera

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Crackdown on Dawlah Islamiyah likely triggered MSU bombing, officials say

FLEEING. All packed up, students walk past the Dimaporo gym at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City, the site of the deadly bombing. Many students started leaving Marawi after the bomb attack on Sunday, December 3. Froilan Gallardo/Rappler

Froilan Gallardo/Rappler

BARMM Chief Minister Al Haj Murad admits the regional government didn’t see the bomb attack coming

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Police and military authorities said the recent government offensives against the ISIS-inspired terrorist Dawlah Islamiyah in different parts of the Bangsamoro region were what likely prompted the group from detonating a bomb at the state-run Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City on Sunday morning, December 3.

The attack, which ISIS took responsibility for, caught the regional government by surprise, admitted Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim.

Murad acknowledged during a news conference in Cotabato City on Sunday that there were lapses on the part of the BARMM regional government to monitor and see the attack coming.

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He assured that “this will not happen again,” as the BARMM moves to strengthen security measures in the Muslim-majority region in the aftermath of the bombing that left at least four people dead and some 45 others hurt shortly before the start of a Catholic Mass at MSU’s Ali Dimaporo gym.

As this developed, Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Ali Mangudadatu offered a P1-million reward for the capture, dead or alive, of those behind the Sunday bomb attack in Marawi during the Soccsksargen region’s 83rd Regional Development Council (RDC) meeting in Koronadal City on Monday, December 4.

Lanao del Sur police director Colonel Robert Daculan, the designated head of the newly-formed Special Investigation Task Group Dimaporo Gymnasium Explosion, said the bombers detonated an improvised explosive device made out of a 60-millimeter mortar.

Armed Forces Chief General Romeo Brawner Jr. and BARMM police director Brigadier General Allan Nobleza noted on Sunday that the bombing was carried out just two days after the government launched ground and air offensives against the Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group that killed at least 11 militants in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan town in Maguindanao del Sur.

The military operation on Friday, December 1, authorities said, killed a newly installed Dawlah Islamiyah ameer (leader), whom they identified only as Commander Sapal.

Architecture, Building, Hospital
HOSPITALIZED. Visitors flank victims of the bombing at the Mindanao State University gym at the state-owned Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City on Sunday, December 3, 2023. courtesy of Zia Alonto Adiong FB page

Before that, government troops also killed Mudzrimar Sawadjaan alias Mundi, the alleged mastermind in the church bombing in Jolo, Sulu in 2019.

Sawadjaan, a leader of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf, a group that pledged allegiance to ISIS, was killed in a military operation in Tuburan, Basilan, on December 2.

Pressure from the military offensives had forced Sawadjaan to flee Sulu and seek refuge in Basilan.

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They said a Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group sub-leader, Alandoni Macadaya Lucsadatu alias Abu Shams, was also recently killed in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur.

Nobleza said they have identified several “persons of interest” in the MSU bomb attack that killed four people. 

Three of the fatalities were identified as June Ray Barbante, Evangelin Aromin, and Riza Ramos.

Mystery surrounds a fourth fatality, a woman, who remained unidentified as of posting time.

One of the persons of interest was identified as Khadafi Mimbesa, also known as “Engineer,” who uses the aliases Kadi and Akoya.

Mimbesa, from Masiu town in Lanao del Sur, is an alleged bomber and a sub-leader of the Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group operating in Lanao del Sur. –

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