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    » 10/09/2014, 00.00


    North Cotabato: grenade attack on Protestant church, two dead and three wounded

    The attack took place in the late afternoon yesterday, during a prayer service. Two men on a motorcycle threw a grenade at the place of worship. So far no official claims, the assailants managed to escape. Pastor Jerry Sanchez condemns violence.

    Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Two Christians have been killed and three others wounded in an grenade attack  late yesterday afternoon in the southern Philippines. Police sources report that two men on a motorcycle threw a grenade at the main entrance of the United Church of Christ in the town of Pikit, in the province of North Cotabato, on the southern island of Mindanao.

    Local witnesses say that the community in the small southern town was gathered in prayer, when suddenly a loud explosion was heard. At the moment there are no claims or official news about the attack; the assailants managed to make a clean get away.  

    The victims are a nurse of 54 and a teacher of  39, who were hit by shrapnel and died due to the severity of their injuries. Pikit police chief Mautin Pangandigan, reports that a M203 grenade launcher was used. Another teacher and two businessmen are injured and hospitalized, but there are no further details about their conditions.

    Pastor Jerry Sanchez explained that at the time of the attack, there were at least 40 worshipers inside the church. "We have no idea why it happened - adds the local leader of the Protestant community - but we condemn this act of brutal force." He reports that the community has been active in promoting peace in the region.

    In recent years, the province of Cotabato has been the subject of numerous attacks carried out by criminal gangs linked to local political leaders or Islamic extremist Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Often, however, these acts go unpunished because of the climate of impunity that characterizes the Muslim majority region of Mindanao, which suffered more than 40 years of war between Muslim rebels and the army.

    Pikit, in particular, is a well-known base for criminals and fighters linked to extremist Islamic movements.

    The peace agreement between the Milf and Manilashould put an end to the violence, but extremist groups - such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (Biff) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) - have tried several times to hinder it.

    In recent days, the police and government forces have been on alert for possible attacks from groups opposed to the peace agreements, but they do not rule out the involvement of clans and families engaged in bloody feuds for control of the territory.


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    See also

    12/02/2013 PHILIPPINES
    Mindanao, military and Islamist rebels abandon their weapons and play football
    The sports match took place on the historic visit of President Aquino to Maguindanao (Mindanao). The Head of State and the leader of the MILF ready to get to work for a lasting peace. Over 60 dead in clashes in Sulu between Abu Sayyaf and the MILF separatist fringe.

    02/04/2010 PHILIPPINES
    Mindanao, Easter calls Christians and Muslims to strive for peace
    During Holy Week and Easter, Mgr. Romulo Tolentino de la Cruz, Bishop of Kidapawan and member of the Forum of bishops and Ulema, tells AsiaNews about the situation and future expectations of the population of Mindanao. For 40 years, the Muslim majority region has been the scene of war between the Philippine army and Islamic rebels.

    28/08/2009 PHILIPPINES
    Human rights violations in Mindanao denounced
    In its report published on 25 August, Amnesty International criticizes the military and MILF and focuses on the humanitarian disaster caused by the conflict. In major cities in the region the peace dialogue sessions between representatives of the Church and Islamic associations continue.

    02/11/2009 PHILIPPINES
    Church and government will not yield to the kidnappers' ransom demand for F. Sinnott
    $ 2 million demanded. The priest is shown smiling in a video shot on 22 October.

    08/09/2012 PHILIPPINES - ITALY
    The tragedy of the people of Mindanao arrives at Venice Film Festival
    The Film Sinapupan (Thy Womb) tells the story of two Muslim women archipelago of Tawi-Tawi, in the most southern island of Mindanao. The relationship between the two characters against the background of the life of a quiet fishing village marked by poverty and conflict between the army and Islamist rebels. The film is directed by Brillante Mendoza, winner of the 2009 prize at Cannes for Best Director.

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