- Posted August 9, 2012 by
Marawi City, Philippines
State university in Mindanao under siege by drugs gang
By Ben O. Tesiorna
A state university in Marawi City is under siege by a group of armed gang suspected to be involved in illegal drugs activity inside the Mindanao State University campus in the said city.
As of Thursday morning, three government security forces were killed while two others were wounded as the firefight between the government soldiers and the more than 20 lawless armed men continues.
Col. Daniel Lucero, chief of the Army’s 103rd Brigade in Marawi City, said the soldiers were responding to indiscriminate rifle shots inside the 433-hectare campus when “ambushed by members of the armed gang” Wednesday evening.
Reports released by the office of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman said that close to 20 students have been hit in crossfire between soldiers and the gang of suspected criminal syndicate.
Col. Lucero identified the gang leader as Otik Gamal, who has about 20 followers, mostly relatives of Marawi City Mayor Fajad Salec, according to sources quoted by the Army officer.
“The university is closed right now. None can enter nor leave the campus. Students are scared, rifles are fired inside the campus,” Lucero said in Filipino.
Gov. Hataman quickly dispelled rumors that the campus attack is related to the ongoing skirmish between government forces and Islamic rebel forces in Central Mindanao.
“Last night's attack to a contingent of the military conducting mobile patrol in Mindanao State University in Marawi City was perpetrated lawless elements. Security and law enforcement operations are ongoing. We also support all efforts to curb the ongoing drug syndicate inside the MSU Campus. The Regional Government will definitely flex its muscles to clamp down these people who use the academic institution as a haven of their illegal business while destroying lives of our people," Hataman said.
"There is no truth to the information circulating on Twitter, Facebook and
social media which allege that war has allegedly broken out in Mindanao. Please refrain from sharing and posting similar information so as not to cause undue panic."
"While it is true that there were attacks on military installations by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFF-BIFM), a group led by breakaway MILF commander Ustadz Ameril Umra Kato, most of these have already been contained by our armed forces and they have our support in their continuing efforts to protect and ensure the safety of our people."
"The military, in cooperation with the local police and other civilian authorities, has effectively addressed the sporadic encounters in Maguindanao," he added.
MSU Marawi is among the top five universities of the Philippines. BOT