ZAMBOANGA CITY: Five people were injured in a grenade attack on Sunday in a Catholic church in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police said.
Police said most of the victims were elderly villagers who were having a meeting at the San Isidro Labrador Church. The motive for the attack, which occurred in the Talon Talon village is still unknown, but police said two motorcycle men were behind the blast.
The grenade, lobbed by one of the men, exploded at the doorstep of the old church. The attackers fled after the explosion.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack and police are investigating the explosion. The victims, who are all residents of the area, were rushed to hospital and their conditions remain unknown.
Just recently the house of a village chieftain Mohammad Nur Attang in Zamboanga City was bombed by men riding in tandem on a motorcycle at the neighboring village of Mampang, injuring three people. Police said the Abu Sayyaf was believed behind the blast.
Four senior citizens and one passer-by were injured, said district chief Jodifer Arquiza.
“It [the motive]is unlikely to be personal. What can they get from these senior citizens? Perhaps this is a message,” he told reporters.
The local police chief, Chief Insp. Felixberto Martinez, said they were pursuing all possible leads but could not give a motive for the attack.
The bombing came days after troops elsewhere in Mindanao island launched a major operation against a breakaway Muslim rebel group opposed to peace talks with the main Muslim rebel organization, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Zamboanga City was also the scene of a bloody siege in September by another Muslim armed group which feared that the peace talks with the MILF would sideline them.
More than 240 people were killed in the three weeks of fighting in Zamboanga, a city with a mixed Christian and Muslim population.
Despite the threats of violence, government and MILF negotiators on January 25 announced that they had successfully completed talks aimed at ending decades-long Muslim insurgency that claimed tens of thousands of lives.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd recently said the government would crush “spoiler” rebels that might try to derail the peace process with the MILF.
WITH REPORT FROM AFP