COTABATO, July 5, 2009—Cotabato Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI has called on all the Catholic faithful to pray for all the innocent victims, those who have died, those who are fighting got their lives in hospitals and those who have been injured” after an improvised incendiary device exploded at the heart of the city, a few meters from the Immaculate Conception Cathedral at about 8:40 A.M. today.
The prelate said the bomb was planted in a lechon house and not in the cathedral or in cathedral grounds where many cars were parked.
He said “to say the attack was intended against the Cathedral and against churchgoers would be stretching the facts to the limit.”
The bombing which reportedly killed five persons and injured some 35 others “took place not while people were going out after Mass, but while the Mass was going on,” in fact when the archbishop was about to conclude his homily.
“Most of those injured where in the vicinity of the lechon house, on the road, “while shrapnels reached and injured some of the churchgoers who were near the cathedral door, where Prince, a high school student and grandson of former Mindanao Cross editor-in-chief Patricio Diaz Sr., was hit,” the 70-year old prelate said.
In his statement released to the media at midday today, Archbishop Quevedo said innocent civilians are the victims of such bombings.
“Even if it can be argued that a church or its worshippers may not be the direct target, to place a bomb near a church where people are worshipping God would be doubly heinous and must be condemned by all people of good will,” he said.
Immediately after the bombing, Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin M. Bagaforo called on medical doctors to extend assistance to the injured victims rushed to different hospitals in the city.
In a text message sent to concerned Cotabato residents, the prelate requested local residents to visit hospitals and extend whatever assistance they could to the injured victims.
Cotabato City had a series of kidnappings and killings over the past few weeks.
A religious figure in the city said residents have been terrified with the series of kidnappings which brought “nightmares” to affluent residents. He added residents of Chinese lineage have begun to flee the city and settle in nearby cities and provinces, notably Davao City.
He said today’s bombing would aggravate the already tarnished image of the city. (Ricky Castro/Rolando Emberga/Fr. Jonathan Domingo, OMI/Mindanao Cross)
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