Army seals off MSU campus after attackPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Col. Daniel Lucero, head of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, said no one was allowed to leave or enter the campus of Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City after the attack.
The security cordon was put in place following an attack by gunmen inside the 433-hectare campus, which covers three villages, that killed the soldiers past 9 p.m. on Wednesday. MSU has a student population of at least 10,000.
Lucero said the leader of the armed gang that attacked the campus was a certain Otik Gamal, who has at least 20 followers mostly relatives of Marawi City Mayor Fajad Salic.
“The university is closed right now,” said Lucero Thursday. “Students are scared,” he added.
Mayor Salic denied involvement in the attack and other previous acts of violence against soldiers in the city.
The mayor claimed he was the aggrieved party, saying soldiers raided his house inside the MSU campus on Wednesday night and destroyed a steel gate, pieces of furniture and glass materials.
His lawyers, the mayor said, are preparing to sue soldiers who are involved in the raid.
The security cordon drew the ire of some people who accused the military of imposing martial law in the campus.
Text messages circulated in Marawi accusing the military of curtailing freedom of education.
But Mujiv Hataman, acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said the military was trying to clear the MSU campus of criminal elements.
A source in the military, who asked that he not be identified for lack of authority to discuss the matter, said soldiers believed the attack was in retaliation for the killing of a leader of the gunmen, identified only as Gamal, last July 14 during an attack by the gunmen on an Army detachment in Marawi.
The source said attacks against soldiers have been escalating. Early this week, said the source, two soldiers were shot dead while guarding the Land Transportation Office in Marawi.
Lucero said the MSU attack was the fourth on soldiers by the same group of gunmen but he refused to discuss the July 14 killing of Gamal and the attack on soldiers guarding the LTO office.
Hataman, meanwhile, asked people not to spread false information through Twitter and Facebook that could worsen the situation in MSU.
“I would like to appeal to everyone to please double check facts before posting (messages) on social media,” said the acting governor in a statement, exerting extra effort to emphasize that the MSU attack was different from the ongoing siege in Maguindanao by followers of renegade Moro rebel Ameril Umra Kato. Richel Umel, Ryan D. Rosauro, Charlie Señase and Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao