Blast hits Philippines mosque

At least two people have been killed and up to 30 injured in a grenade attack on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, police said.

Two hand grenades were thrown into a packed mosque during noontime prayers, said Chief Inspector Eduardo Marquez.

The incident is said to have happened inside the compound of the government's National Irrigation Administration in the town of Midsayap.

So far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

"We are still conducting an investigation," said Mr Marquez. "I believe it was done by only one person because a witness said so."

Most of the casualties are thought to be government employees.

Among the dead were Ismael Datu Kali, the Islamic preacher presiding over the prayers, and Macmud Mending, the irrigation agency's regional director, said Mr Marquez.

At the time of the blast, witnesses described hearing two loud, almost simultaneous, explosions.

Rushing to the mosque, they saw worshippers scattering in different directions.

Midsayap, which is mainly Christian but has a sizable Muslim minority, has been hit by bomb blasts before.

Mindanao island is mired in factional fighting, with Islamic rebels being blamed for a string of bomb attacks in the region, including some earlier this year.

But the BBC correspondent in Manila, John McLean, says the targets of these attacks are not usually other Muslims.

In years gone by, Christian vigilante groups have attacked Muslims, but usually in retaliation for attacks on Christians.

It is always possible that the latest killings had no political motive at all.

The whole country is awash with weapons, and it is not unknown for Filipinos to try to settle seemingly minor private disputes by throwing hand grenades at their rivals, our correspondent says.

03/10/2003

Bron : BBC World News

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