A police patrol pickup truck damaged in the grenade attack. (Courtesy of Megz Quiñonez/Facebook)

Grenade attack in North Cotabato town leaves 13 hurt
John Unson (Philstar.com) - December 25, 2016 - 1:20am

NORTH COTABATO, Philippines – A grenade explosion near a Catholic church in Midsayap town on Saturday night left 13 people hurt.

Investigators said two men riding a motorcycle together perpetrated the bombing.

Superintendent Romeo Galgo, Jr., spokesman of the Regional Police Office-12 based in General Santos City, said one of the victims was a police officer named SPO4 Johnny Caballero of the Midsayap municipal police.

Sources from the Midsayap municipal peace and order council said the target of the grenade attack was a police pickup truck parked near the entrance of the church.

The grenade landed on its hood and fell on the concrete pavement before going off.

Twelve people milling around were hurt in the explosion.

The blast disrupted an ongoing mass by Fr. Jay Virador of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation.

“The explosion caused a commotion inside the church,” said 36-year-old churchgoer Tina Monde.

Virador said he was administering the communion rite when they heard a loud explosion outside.

Many of the churchgoers ducked for cover under the seats while others scampered away in different directions.

The acting governor of North Cotabato, Charlyn Macasarte, condemned the bombing and urged the provincial police to do everything to identify the culprits.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao told reporters via text message that he sympathizes with the victims even though Midsayap is not a component area of ARMM.

Midsayap, a booming agricultural town in the first district of North Cotabato, is 41 kilometers northwest of the ARMM’s regional capitol in Cotabato City.

“Whoever were behind the attack do not have religion. They are savages,” Hataman said in his text message.

Local officials are convinced the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which boasts allegiance to the Independent State of Iraq and Syria, is behind for the attack.

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