6 slightly injured as blast rips off roof of police camp chapel in Jolo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 December) – A blast ripped off a portion of the roof of a Catholic chapel inside Camp Asturias, the Philippine National Police camp in Jolo, Sulu at around 7:15 a.m. today (Christmas Day), injuring six parishioners in the choir area “slightly.”

The chapel is located a few steps from the main gate’s guardhouse.

“Puro minor injury. Mga daplis lang,” (They sustained minor injuries), a reporter based in Jolo said.

GMANews.TV quoted Jolo police chief, Senior Inspector Junibee Muksan, as telling radio dzBB in a telephone interview, “Natagpuan sa kisame ng chapel, sumabog ang di natin alam anong klaseng pagsabog (The device that exploded was found in the chapel’s ceiling.We have yet to determine what kind of explosive it was).”

GMANews said the blast happened at 7 a.m. Christmas day but the CBCP News (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) said the explosion ripped off a portion of the roof of the Sacred Heart of Jesus sub-parish at around 7:15 p.m. on Christmas eve.

DXMM in Jolo reported the blast at 7:15 a.m. on Christmas Day.

It is not clear how the perpetrator could have put the improvised explosive device on the roof given that the chapel is just a stone’s throw from the guard house at the main gate.

“The explosion wounded several persons including the priest who was reading the Gospel and damaged the ceiling of the sacristy,” CBCPNews quoted  Jolo Bishop Angelito Lampon as saying.

Lampon told his colleagues in the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) that the explosion which occurred during the Gospel, caused the collapse of a portion of the ceiling and slight injuries to those in the choir area. The mass was not continued anymore.

Sixteen years ago, on July 24, 1994, Father Clarence Bertelsmann, OMI, was kidnapped after saying Mass at the same chapel. Bertelsmann was rescued a few hours later as the kidnap group tried to shoot it out with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) elements who stopped them at the heckpoint in Sitio Bauno, Barangay Tagbag in Indanan town, Sulu. (MindaNews)