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MSU bombing mastermind killed in Lanao military ops

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday confirmed the death of the leader of terrorist group Dawlah Islamiyah (DI), who masterminded the bombing of Mindanao State University (MSU) in December last year.

Military sources were able to verify that Khadafi Mimbesa, known as “Engineer,” was among those killed in last month’s military operation in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur.

AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said the 103rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army under Brig. Gen. Yegor Rey Barroquillo Jr. was able to validate the terrorist leader’s death.

The same military unit was responsible for the neutralization of local terrorists and armed members of the DI in Lanao del Sur last Jan. 25 and 26.

Trinidad said statements from a surrendered terrorist, identified as Khatab, a high-value individual in the DI-Maute group who surrendered to the 2nd Mechanized Brigade last Sunday, have corroborated the initial information on the demise of Mimbesa.

“We have heard of that but did not talk about it outright because no one would confirm that until one from their group surrendered and announced that the mastermind of the bombing was indeed killed by soldiers in one of the recent encounters in Piagapo municipality,” an elected official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters in Cotabato City through mobile communication.

Known as the leader of the Maguid faction in the DI in Lanao del Sur, Mimbesa, a Maranao, was tagged as the mastermind in the bombing of a mass at a gymnasium, where explosives were planted, inside the MSU in Marawi City on Dec. 3 last year, an attack that left four worshippers dead and hurt at least 50 others.

Officials of units under the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade and senior members of various municipal peace and order councils in Lanao del Sur told reporters Mimbesa started as a member of the decimated Maute terror group that laid siege to a number of barangays in Marawi City from May 23 to Aug. 16, 2017.

The DI is known for fomenting hatred for non-Muslims and has a reputation for bombing buses and commercial establishments if owners refuse to pay protection money on a monthly basis.