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21 Dawlah men neutralized before Marawi City campus bombing

COTABATO CITY — The deadly bombing of Christian worshipers in Marawi City on Sunday came after state forces had killed up to 21 religious extremists in separate operations in Mindanao since June, among them the “emir” of the Dawlah Islamiya, wanted for 36 high-profile criminal cases in different courts.

The bomb explosion on Sunday morning in the Dimaporo Gymnasium on the campus of the Mindanao State University in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur killed four worshipers — Risa Dancel, Janine Arenas, Junerey Arbante and Jen Aromin — and hurt more than 30 others. Non-Muslim students, MSU employees and faculty members are free to use the facility for Sunday prayer rites and other religious gatherings.  

Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong, Jr. told reporters via Viber message on Monday that he shall provide the families of the four blast fatalities with financial assistance needed for their burial. Adiong, who had condemned the atrocity early on, said that his office had paid for the medicines initially needed in the treatment of the blast victims now in different hospitals.

“Besides our humanitarian efforts, we are doing our best to help the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines locate the perpetrators of this barbaric act,” Adiong said.

Officials in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the region’s police director, Brig. Allan Nobleza and the commander of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Roy Galido, separately told reporters that the MSU gymnasium bombing seemed connected to the government having neutralized at least 21 senior members of the Dawlah Islamiya in various encounters in different areas in Mindanao in the past seven months.

Among them was Abdulkarim Lumbatan Hashim, a Maguindanaon and most known as the Dawlah Islamiya’s “Commander Jacket” and implicated in bombings, extortion, multiple murder and trafficking of narcotics. He died in a gunfight with the policemen and personnel of intelligence units under the 6th Infantry Division on Feb. 17, 2023 in a bus terminal in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat province. 

Hashim's group was responsible for the fatal ambush of Police Lt. Reynaldo Samson and a subordinate, Corporal