Mindanao: grenades thrown at a Catholic church, three people wounded

Manila, Philippines – Three people were wounded yesterday morning in an attack against the San Vicente Ferrer Catholic Church in Kalilangan in the diocese of Malaybalay (Bukidnon District, Mindanao). At present, it is not known who carried out the attack and why.

Two young people on a motorcycle threw two grenades into the church parvis during the Sunday service; only one exploded, wounding three worshippers, and causing panic inside the building.

Despite the attack, Fr Art Pariso, San Vicente’s parish priest, concluded the Mass in the parvis.

Police believe the attack to be connected with the death of a young Muslim male, who was hit by a bus owned by the Rural Transit of Mindanao (RTMI) company. A Christian was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident.

Police do not exclude an indirect vendetta. The parents of the victim were involved in attacks against two RTMI buses last Thursday that left four people dead.

To avoid tensions between the Christian and Muslim communities, Mgr Jose Araneta Cabantan, bishop of Malaybalay, called on Catholics to remain calm.

“I call on all the faithful in Bukidnon, especially those in the parish of Kalilangan to pray and stay calm,” the bishop said in a press release.

Mgr Cabantan also urged the faithful not to give in to these isolated incidents that can only create tensions between Christians and Muslims in the region of Mindanao, where a 40-year war has been raging between the Filipino army and Muslim rebels.