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ICC Note: The Police continues its search of suspected Islamic militants who have vandalized a Catholic chapel in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao. The authorities believe that Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were involved in the incident given their previous offense earlier this year. Antique religious icons were set on fire and destroyed. Governor Esmael Mangudadatu states that the attempt to burn the Catholic chapel is un-Islamic and ordered police to bring perpetrators to justice.

11/13/2017 Philippines (UCA News) – Suspected supporters of an Islamist militant group desecrated a Catholic chapel in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao in the evening of Nov. 10.

Authorities said they are still looking into the identities of the perpetrators who tried to set fire to the chapel in the village of Labo-Labo in Shariff Aguak town.

Police said they are considering reports that supporters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were behind the incident.

In June this year, BIFF gunmen also desecrated a chapel in the neighboring province of North Cotabato.

Witnesses said the still unidentified men poured gasoline on religious images and icons on the altar of the San Isidro de Labrador chapel about nine in the evening. Some “antique religious icons” were damaged by fire, the Philippine Star reported.

Oblate Father Eliseo Mercado Jr. who formerly served at the chapel during his early years as a priest, condemned the desecration.

He said the attack was “the work of few extremists that need to be rooted out.”

The priest recalled that even during the height of the Moro rebellion in the 1970s “Muslim rebels respected places of worship in the area.”

Town official Anwar Emblawa said the incident was intended “to disrupt the harmonious relationship between Muslims and Christians” in the municipality.

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