By Aaron Recuenco
The grenade blast in a mosque in Zamboanga City could be a strong message that Christians are also capable of pulling off a terror attack, a top police official said Thursday.
But Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that the retaliatory attack angle following the Jolo Catholic church blast that left 21 people dead and more than 100 others injured is just one of the theories that investigators are pursuing.
“What we know here it’s really intentional, it’s because they put off the light on the post before they threw their grenade,” said Albayalde in an interview over CNN Philippines.
“There are angles that we are looking here, as you know, are related to the Jolo blast… This is just to probably give a strong message that probably these Christians … can do the same,” he added.
He explained that this kind of retaliatory attack already happened in the past.
But in this case, Albayalde said that the perpetrators may have been unaware that there were people inside the mosque when they lobbed the grenade. Two people died while four others were wounded when the grenade went off.
It was recalled that the two fatalities were religious leaders from Basilan who just asked for a place to sleep before they go home to their province.
Another angle that the police are looking into, according to Albayalde, is that the attack could be a rift between two factions of Islam in the western part of Mindanao.
“Of the things [the other things] we are looking [at] here is the rift between Muslim factions. That’s another. We are looking into it because there is this long time rift between factions of religious groups between Muslims also in Mindanao,” said Albayalde.
Security officials and leaders of various non-government organizations are trying to prevent the escalation of the attacks in Mindanao; the first measure is to increase police visibility and dialogues with religious leaders.
In an interview over dzMM, Zamboanga Peninsula regional police director Chief Supt. Emmanuel Luis Licup said they are now crafting security measures to prevent the repeat of attacks.
“We are considering a ban on bringing in bags and backpacks in places of worship,” said Licup in an interview over dzMM. (Aaron Recuenco)