A grenade exploded outside a Catholic church in the southern Philippine town of Datu Piang, Maguindanao province, on Oct. 14, a military report said.
Witnesses said an unidentified man, suspected to be a member of a local terror group, lobbed the grenade a few meters from the entrance of the St. Therese Parish Church.
Lt. Col. Dante Gania of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division said the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters could have been behind the grenade attack.
“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.”
He said soldiers were on a security patrol near the church when the grenade exploded.
Father Clifford Baira, director of the Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Cotabato, said they still have no idea as to the motive of the attack.
In June 2008, unknown men burned the church that was then built mostly from light materials.
It was reconstructed through donations from both Muslim and Christian residents. The new church was inaugurated on Oct. 3, 2010.
Uniquely embedded inside the church are more than a dozen 105 mm mortar shells that adorn the posts and ceilings either as chandelier, lampshade, and candleholder.
The parish of St. Therese was established in January 1955 in the predominantly Muslim town of Datu Piang.