01/11/2010, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Mindanao: a grenade explodes in front of Jolo Cathedral, no injuries

by Santosh Digal
The blast took place yesterday morning shortly before mass. Abu Sayyaf Muslim rebels main suspects of the attack. In recent months, two grenades have exploded near the cathedral. The last attack dates to 31 December. Sulu Bishops says Church will not close its mission in Jolo.

Cotabato City (AsiaNews) - Yesterday morning, a grenade exploded in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Caramel of Jolo (Sulu-Mindanao) shattering the windows. According to local police  the blast occurred around 5 am, an hour before the celebration of mass. No-one was involved in the blast, but tension remains high among the population.  

"I was preparing for mass at 5.40 - said Fr Jose Ante, Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate - when the grenade exploded in the churchyard".   "The church he continued - was still empty at the time of the explosion, which is why there were no injuries. God protected us again".

Immediately after the explosion of the bomb the church authorities closed the building and suspended services. The police have increased security measures around the church.

"We do not know the reasons for this attack - said Mgr. Angelito Lampon, bishop of Sulu - but this event will not stop the Church's mission in Jolo".

This is the third attack near the cathedral since October. The last occurred on 31 December and wounded two soldiers.

Although there have been no claims so far, local police suspect that the Islamic rebels of Abu Sayyaf, an extremist group linked to al-Qaeda, are behind the attack. According to authorities the group aims to maintain a climate of tension among the population. Members of Abu Sayyaf have been accused of previous attacks. The most serious occurred on 7 July and caused 6 deaths and 40 wounded.

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