MSU bombing ‘brains’ killed in encounter–AFP
The alleged mastermind behind December’s deadly bombing at Mindanao State University (MSU) was killed during an operation conducted by the military in Lanao del Sur last month, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Monday. The AFP identified the suspect as Khadafi Mimbesa, also known as “Engineer,” the amir or leader of the Dawlah Islamiyah–Maute Group, a local affiliate of the terrorist network Islamic State.
The MSU bomb attack, which happened at the university’s gymnasium during a Catholic mass on Dec. 3, 2023, left four people killed and 50 others injured.
Khatab, “a high-value individual” in the DI-Maute group who surrendered to the 2nd Mechanized Brigade on Feb. 11, confirmed the death of Mimbesa.
The two were identified by survivors of the bombing and with the help of footage taken by police investigators from a security camera.
According to the police, Mimbesa and Khatab were seen arriving in the area on a motorcycle before the explosion. They then left before the bomb went off.
Mimbesa, tagged as the terrorist group’s “IED (improvised explosive device) expert,” was identified by police investigators as the person carrying a bag that contained a 60-millimeter mortar coupled with a rocket-propelled grenade. He reportedly triggered the IED through a cell phone.
The encounter in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur, on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26 left nine suspected members of the group dead, three of them suspects in the MSU bombing.
Call to surrender
AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. called on the “remnants” of the terrorist group to surrender. “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,” he said.
Four soldiers who were wounded in the Lanao del Sur operation were honored on Monday by the government with combat medals.
President Marcos, who was accompanied by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., Brawner and Army chief Lt. Gen. Roy Galido, awarded the Gold Cross Medal to Staff Sgt. Jhonny Batican and Private First Class Mark John Culaway at the Army General Hospital in Taguig City.
Batican “strategically aimed” an M203 grenade launcher at the suspected terrorists’ position, significantly reducing their numbers, according to the AFP. Culaway, on the other hand, ensured the safety of the maneuvering team but suffered injuries as a result.
The Gold Cross Medal is the fourth highest military award, which is given in recognition of a soldier’s gallantry in action.
Mr. Marcos also awarded the Military Merit Medal with Bronze Spearhead Device to Privates First Class Vincent Salvani and Jheremy Addatu for risking their lives “to take critical points and prevent the enemy from escaping.”
All four awardees are members of the Army’s 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion. INQ