Hawzah News Agency (Mindanao, Philippine) -The latest blast prompted worries of sectarian retaliation in the majority Catholic Philippines, with authorities urging interfaith unity as investigators hunted a motive.
The grenade explosion tore through the mosque as the victims were sleeping before dawn on the insurgency-plagued island of Mindanao, which is home to the Philippines’ Muslim minority. Four people were wounded in the attack.
Just three days earlier, a bombing at a cathedral on the neighboring island of Jolo claimed 21 lives at a Sunday Mass in an assault claimed by the Islamic State group.
Authorities warned against speculating that the mosque attack was an act of revenge, adding that they had no indication that it was retaliation for the cathedral bombing.
“We’re still looking at it, but we have not found any connection,” Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana told reporters. “In the past when churches were bombed ... there were no revenge attacks.”
Authorities have not publicly identified any suspects and no one has claimed responsibility for the mosque attack.
“Regardless of one’s faith, [we] must resist becoming a victim of this vicious cycle of violence these terrorists are now attempting to create,” Zia Alonto Adiong, a politician in the southern Philippines, wrote on Twitter. “Let us not fall into their trap and give them the satisfaction of turning ourselves (Muslims & Christians) into enemies.”
The attack drew immediate condemnation from authorities.
“There is no redeeming such blasphemous murder. It is the highest form of cowardice and obscenity to attack people who [are] at prayer,” Philippine Representative Mujiv Hataman said.
“We call on people of all faiths ... to come together to pray for peace,” he added.