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Catholic bishops condemn Philippine bomb blasts

Catholic bishops in the Philippines have condemned two lethal bomb blasts in the south and say there could be possible religious undertones in the incident.

Monsignor Hernando Coronel, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) says they strongly condemn the violence, after two bombs went off in the southern city of Zamboanga, killing five people and wounding 144 others.

Monsignor Coronel said there were fears the bombings "might have a religious dimension [stemming from] misunderstandings of Christians and Muslims".

"We pray for the victims and their families, we are asking God for justice - let it not be hostility in our hearts but justice," Monsignor Coronel said.

Zamboanga is a port city that is 80 per cent Christian but is located near predominantly Muslim islands in the south.

The military's has named the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group notorious for kidnapping Christians and foreigners, as the main suspect in the attack.

Muslim rebel groups have long waged a separatist war in the southern Philippines which they consider their ancestral home.

However, years of migration have made the south a majority-Christian area.


Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Blasts hit southern Philippine city (BBC)

18 Oct 2002