This is an update on this story:
Following an April 13 Islamist terrorist attack that destroyed 70% of his cathedral, a Philippine bishop says that he and the other Christians of the city fear for their lives.
“It is the first time we are attacked so directly and with such force,” said Bishop Martin Jumoad of the Territorial Prelature of Isabella. “In the past, I received several threatening letters and intimidation. There have been other smaller attacks, but now it is very different. This could be a tragedy. I seriously fear for my life and the lives of the faithful.”
“I have prepared a pastoral letter calling on Catholics to stay in Basilan, which is our home, and asking them to remain calm, not to react to violence, and to pray for peace,” he added. “Today, a procession of people carrying candles as a sign of peace lit the city. Our hope must not die.”
81% of the Philippines’ 88.7 million people are Catholic. However, the territory in which Bishop Jumoad ministers is predominantly Muslim, with only 27% of residents being Catholic.
Sta. Isabel Cathedral via.
The 53-year-old prelate said he does not know how to rebuild the cathedral (left), constructed in 1970 with a capacity for 1,400 worshipers.
…The blasts shattered the cathedral’s stained glass windows and damaged the priests’ rectory. Several priests’ service vehicles were also destroyed.
Regional military chief Lieutenant General Ben Dolorfino said military intelligence had received reports of an impending attack, but not its details, AFP says.
“They were planning something big. This was well planned and apparently they were well funded.”
Authorities suspect that politicians who hired mercenaries may have been behind the attacks.
LWJ reports on other aspects of the attacks:
Five civilians, five Philippine Marines, a policeman, and four Abu Sayyaf Group fighters were reported killed in the ensuing clashes, and five Abu Sayyaf fighters were captured. Police and Philippine troops are currently pursuing the remaining Abu Sayyaf fighters.
Today’s attacks in Isabela are reminiscent of recent terror assaults by the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other al Qaeda-associated groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Yemen.
A reasonable cause to attack his Cathedral, isn’t it?