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4 dead, several hurt in bombing in Mindanao State University gym in Marawi

Four people were killed while several others were hurt after a blast occurred at the Dimaporo Gymnasium at Mindanao State University in Marawi City Sunday morning.

The blast occurred at 7:30 a.m. as a Mass was being held at the gym attended by students and teachers, according to a report by GMA Integrated News stringer Ferdinandh Cabrera on Super Radyo dzBB.

Forty-six victims were brought to Marawi City’s Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) emergency room, another eight wounded were taken to the MSU Infirmary, with 4 confirmed dead and six set to undergo operation, hospital chief Dra. Pinky Rakiin said, according to the Philippine Army 1st Infantry Division (1ID) public affairs officer.

Only 7 wounded victims remained at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center on Sunday evening.

The emergency room at the regional hospital in Marawi City has been placed on code blue as a result.

PA 1ID commander Major General Gabriel Viray III earlier said that based on the initial report, three women and one man died because of the explosion.

Investigation is ongoing regarding the incident.

Marcos vows justice to victims

Meanwhile, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. condemned the attack and vowed justice for the victims.

In a statement, the President stressed that “extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society.”

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists upon the Mindanao State University (MSU) and Marawi communities early this Sunday morning,” he said.

He also urged the public to remain calm and keep the victims and affected individuals in their prayers.

“As reports come in throughout the day, I enjoin all of us to remain calm, circumspect, and conscientious in our collective efforts to ensure that the horrific events of this morning are not further compounded by inaccurate, unvetted, and unofficial information,” the President said.

“Rest assured we will bring the perpetrators of this ruthless act to justice,” he added.

Heightened alert

Viray was quoted in a Reuters report as saying that they are on heightened alert following the incident.

Viray called the attack at the Mindanao State University "a terror act," speaking to reporters as explosive disposal experts were deployed.

"Right now we are on heightened alert and our troops remain vigilant as we are determining the motive and identifying the perpetrators to really ascertain who was behind it," Viray said.

Bangsamoro Police Regional Office regional director Police Brigadier General Allan Nobleza said that they are looking at the possible connection of the killing of the 11 members of the Dawlah Islamiyah (DI) with the bombing incident.

“That is one of the angles that we are investigating right now kasi isa rin ‘yan sa pinakamalapit na pwedeng anggulo sa mga nangyaring ito [that is the nearest possible angle in what is happening], ‘yung nangyari sa Maguindanao del Sur wherein eleven members of the Dawlah Islamiyah Philippines were killed last December 1,” he said in a Super Radyo dzBB interview.

Nobleza said that investigators are still gathering evidence, such as reviewing CCTV footage, to determine the perpetrators behind the bombing.

“Ang Bangsamoro Region, nag-declare kami ng full alert status following the explosion incident that happened in MSU kasi tinitignan na puwedeng may kinalaman dito ito sa nangyari sa mga operasyon ng PNP at military,” he said.

(We have declared a full alert status in the Bangsamoro Region following the explosion incident that happened in MSU because we are looking at the possibility that it may have something to do with the recent operations of the PNP and the military.)

He said that authorities are now implementing target hardening measures, particularly in places of convergence or crowded areas. Police assistance desks are also placed in these places.

Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal "Bombit" Alonto Adiong Jr. on Sunday condemned the incident and vowed to make sure justice will be served.

"I condemn the violent bombing incident that transpired this morning at the Dimaporo Gymnasium at the Mindanao State University during a Sunday mass congregation," he said in a statement.

"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," Adiong added.

"I urge the security sector to get to the bottom of this IMMEDIATELY!," he said.

"To the families of those whose lives were lost in this senseless act of violence and terrorism, please accept our deepest condolences and sympathies. We will make sure justice will be served," the governor said.

MSU condemned the incident and expressed condolences to the victims and their families.

"The Mindanao State University (MSU) community is deeply saddened and appalled by the act of violence that occurred during a religious gathering at the university gymnasium this morning. We unequivocally condemn in the strongest possible terms this senseless and horrific act and extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families. We are committed to providing support and assistance to those affected by this tragedy," it said.

The university said its 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."

MSU suspended classes until further notice. It also deployed additional security personnel in the campus.

The university said it is coordinating with local government units and law enforcement authorities regarding the investigation into the incident.— with a report from Reuters/KG/RSJ, GMA Integrated News