Police: N. Cotabato grenade blast not meant for church

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CARMEN, North Cotabato – Police authorities here on Thursday rushed to clarify that the New Year’s eve grenade blast in Barangay Ugalingan was not meant for a Christian church.

Supt. Franklin Anito, town police chief, said the police wanted to disabuse public mind the grenade was intended for the chapel of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).

Like many Mindanao areas, the animosity between residents belonging to the Christian and Islamic faith has not really healed over the years and any misconception can easily rekindle it, an investigator who did not want to be identified said.

Anito agreed by saying that based on investigation, the target of the grenade thrower was militiaman Narciso Tropa, who was entering the chapel with his family, to attend the New Year’s eve mass.

“The suspect was seen standing on a dirt road where Tropa’s family was to pass at about 8:45 p.m.,” he said.

“They were near the UCCP church when the grenade tossed by the unidentified man went off,” he said.

“Definitely, the target was not the Church,” he told reporters.

But Anito said the victims could not identify the man as it was dark.

“They just noticed that the man tossed something hard on the ground and hurriedly left,” he said.

Tropa was unharmed in the explosion but four members of his family – including two of his children – were injured.

Also injured in the blast was a 16-year-old church-goer.

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