Friday, January 01, 2010

4 people hurt in grenade attacks in South RP

Victims of a grenade explosion in Kidapawan City. (Mindanao Examiner / Giovani Solmerano)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 1, 2009) – Four people were injured, including a government soldier, in two separate grenade attacks in the southern Philippines, officials said Friday.

Officials said a grenade blast in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province on Friday left three people injured. The attack is being investigated by the police.

One government soldier was also wounded after a grenade explosion on New Year’s Eve outside a Roman Catholic cathedral in Sulu province.

Officials said the blast occurred at around 11.20 p.m. Thursday outside the Our Lady of Mount Carmel cathedral in Jolo town. The soldier guarding the church was hit by shrapnel.

Sulu military chief Marine Brigadier General Rustico Guerrero said the grenade exploded at Rizal Park in front of the church. “The explosion injured the soldier who was detailed to guard the church,” he said.

It was unknown who lobbed the grenade and no group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sporadic clashes in Sulu since September had killed dozens of gunmen and soldiers, including two members of the US Special Forces, after the military launched attacks against the Abu Sayyaf and Moro National Liberation Front rebels during the Eid Fit’r, one of the most important Muslim celebrations after the holy month of Ramadan.

The rebels who were followers of former MNLF chieftain Nur Misuari declared a holy war or jihad against the military for disrespecting the Eid celebration. Marine Major General Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, ordered the assault.

US troops are deployed in Sulu since 2006 and helping the military defeat terrorism. Last year, the church was attacked twice by Abu Sayyaf militants who also threatened to abduct and kill priests and nuns and missionaries in Sulu.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed by the police and military for the spate of kidnappings for ransom and terrorism in the southern Philippines. In 1997, militants shot dead Sulu Bishop Benjamin de Jesus as he was walking in front of the cathedral. And three years later, militants also shot dead another priest Benjamin Inocencio in Jolo town. The Abu Sayyaf was also blamed for the kidnapping of two Spanish nuns and an American missionary in Jolo in the 1990s.
(With a report from Arlene Solmerano)

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