Philippine: Justice pledged for victims of blasts at a church on Christmas Eve

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed justice for the victims of blast at a church on Christmas Eve. The explosion unfolded in front of a church in Midsayap, North Cotabato. President Duterte visited the victims under treatment in Aniceto Pesante Memorial Hospital in Midsayap. He pledged that perpetrators will be brought to justice.

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The President met with the victims and spoke to those injured in the Christmas Eve church explosion. One of the victims, 28-year-old, Cheyserr Rosetse, said that the President had assured him that the government will bear all the expenses incurred for her medical treatment. She said that the President gave her cash assistance also.

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On Christmas Eve, at least 17 people including a police officer, sustained serious injuries when a hand grenade blew up under a police car when mass was being conducted inside the church at around 9:30 pm on Christmas eve. Police claim two men riding a motorcycle were responsible for the blast. Authorities claim that the blast was meant to target the police officers. Authorities say that police officers have been receiving threats from drug dealers.

While remarking about the incident, Police Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr. said that the service had to be cut short because of the explosion. He said that the priest did not say the closing prayers because the congregants started rushing out of the church as soon as they heard the explosion.

The Midsayap police chief Supt. Bernard Tayong detailed that the investigations had revealed that the attack could be a reprisal against the police as a result of government’s continuing operations against the drug operations. Mayor Romeo Arania also said that the attack probably not meant to target the Church.

Another investigations officer said that the attackers wanted to target the church but owing to tight security blew up the police car. “It seems they wanted to get closer, but due to heavy security, they opted to throw the explosive at the police car blocking the road,” the investigator said.

Thus far none of the terrorist groups has claimed responsibility for the Midsayap church attack. The authorities are suspecting involvement of small militants groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.