What to Know:
The Philippine military has announced that an operation killed a militant leader of the Islamic State-affiliated Dawlah Islamiyah terror group that is believed to have been behind the bombing of a Catholic mass at the Mindanao State University on December 3, which left four dead and dozens wounded.
On December 3, 2023, an explosive device detonated during a Catholic mass being held at the Mindanao State University. The blast killed four people and left dozens of others wounded.
[Trigger Warning: sensitive content]
LOOK: A bomb ripped through the Dimaporo Gym inside the Mindanao State University (MSU) campus in Marawi City early Sunday, Dec. 3, amid a Catholic Holy Mass attended mainly by students. | ?: Contributed via Paul Lauro, @cebudailynews
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) December 3, 2023
The Islamic State released a message claiming responsibility for the attack, stating that “soldiers of the Caliphate detonated an explosive deceive on a large gathering of infidel Christians in the city of Malawi while they were performing polytheistic rituals, killing a number of Christians and wounding dozens…”
The attack came as Philippine military forces launched an operation against Dawlah Islamiyah in Maguindanao del Sur the previous week, which left nearly a dozen militants dead, including its new leader. It is believed that the bombing was in retaliation to the operation.
While details remain scarce, Army Brigadier General Yegor Rey Barroquillo told AFP that the operation took place in the southern municipality of Piagapo in late January, which resulted in Khadafi Mimbesa, the militant suspected of masterminding the bombing, being mortally wounded. Several other militants were reported to have been killed with one captured, while two others escaped.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines through its 103rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army confirmed the death of Khadafi Mimbesa, also known as “Engineer," in the military operation in January in Lanao del Sur.#OneAFPOnePHILIPPINES#StrongAFPStrongPHILIPPINES#AFPyoucanTRUST pic.twitter.com/ktTXjpd96g
— Armed Forces of the Philippines (@TeamAFP) February 12, 2024
In a statement, armed forces chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said that “Our troops will be relentless in the pursuit of those who will seek to disturb the peace. Take this as an invitation and a call to surrender now and avoid the same fate as your dead comrades,” adding that, “The Armed Forces of the Philippines will always be a catalyst for peace and assure the public of the military’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding peace and security in Mindanao and across the country.”