Grenade explodes near Catholic church in Maguindanao

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 15 Oct) – A grenade explosion rocked the vicinity of a Catholic church at poblacion Datu Piang, Maguindanao Monday evening, military and church officials said.

Municipality of Datu Piang, Maguindanao. Map courtesy of Google

No one was hurt in the 8:15 p.m. explosion.

Lt. Col. Dante Gania, acting chief of the Public Affairs Office of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said a still unidentified suspect inspired by the Islamic State lobbed the improvised hand grenade just 20 meters away from the Sta. Teresita parish church in Datu Piang.

Gania said they suspected the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to be behind the grenade attack.

Many BIFF members have been getting back to the fold of the law and hardcore members could be behind this attack to show that they are still a force to reckon with, the official said.

“Those behind the attack wanted to sow fear,” he said on the phone, noting that “it was not meant to hurt parishioners given the timing of the attack.”

Soldiers were on a security patrol near the church, and they could be the target of the grenade attack, he added.

Fr. Clifford Baira, director of the Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Cotabato, condemned the grenade attack.

The priest said they still have no idea as to the motive of the grenade attack.

In June 2008, unknown men burned the Sta. Teresita parish church that was then built mostly from light materials, using a gallon of gasoline placed under the edifice constructed like a stilt house.

It was reconstructed through donations.

About a thousand people from all walks of life, both Muslims and Christians, witnessed the blessing of the new church on October 3, 2010, during its 56th patronal fiesta.

Uniquely embedded inside the church are more than a dozen empty 105mm mortar shells adorning the posts and ceilings either as chandeliers and lampshades, or at the pulpit, as candle holders. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)