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S. Philippines Christians fear abductions, mortar attacks by Muslim radicals

ICC Note:

Christians in the southern Philippines are living in fear of abductions and violent attacks from Muslim militants. Three mortar bombs have been fired in Jolo in the past three months alone, killing several people. Christians are also repeatedly abducted.

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4/3/09 Philippines (CNA) Months after the abduction of three Red Cross workers at the hands of Muslim militants, Christians in the apostolic vicariate of Jolo in the southern Philippines are still living in fear because of the danger posed by mortar attacks, abductions and other violent acts, a local bishop says. In the past month no fewer than three mortar bombs were fired in Jolo, one of which killed several people. Another damaged the roof of the gymnasium of the Marist-run Notre Dame Boys School, while a third exploded near the base of the Marines Third Brigade not far from the local bishop’s residence, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports. There continue to be repeated abductions of Christians as well.

Commenting on the abductions, Regina Lynch, Head of Projects at ACN, said it was “regrettable” that media rarely reported the abduction of native Filipinos.

“We at ACN call on people around the world not to forget the oppressed Christians in Jolo!” she exhorted.

On January 15, 2008 on the Jolo region’s Island of Tabawan, Filipino priest Fr. Reynado Jesus Roda was shot dead by armed Muslims, becoming the third Catholic priest to have been murdered in the region in the last 11 years.

Bishop Angelito Lampon, apostolic vicar of Jolo, spoke about the situation with ACN.

He said that although it was “relatively peaceful” because Marine units are now stationed in the area, priests who in the past declined the protection of a security escort have now been obliged to accept an escort “by force of circumstances because they have no other choice.”

Bishop Lampon emphasized that not one Muslim has been abducted.

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