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ZAMBOANGA CITY – Two unidentified men attacked a local mosque, exploding a fragmentation grenade before dawn Wednesday that killed 2 Islamic missionaries or Tablighi Jamaat in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

Five other missionaries were wounded in the attack on Kamalhaldikan Mosque. At least 11 people were sleeping at the mosque when the attack occurred, killing Sattal Bato, 47, and Rex Habil, 46.

A blurred photo of 2 Islamic missionaries killed in a grenade attack in a mosque before dawn Wednesday, January 30, 2019, was released by the Philippine military to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the desecration of the mosque, but the attack drew condemnation from Muslim groups and local leaders.

The attack occurred 3 days after a pair of ISIS bombers blew themselves up at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo town in Sulu province that left dozens of casualties. It was not immediately known whether the attack was connected to the suicide bombings or perpetrated by rival groups.

Mayor Beng Climaco condemned the attack on the mosque and called for sobriety and vigilance. Climaco ordered the police to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident, calling it a “dastardly act,” as she allayed fears the attack is a consequence of a tension between Muslims and Christians.

“We call on the people to remain sober but vigilant and let us not allow terrorists to divide the good relationship between Muslims and Christians because we remain united, practice tolerance and live together in peace,” she said.

Governor Mujiv Hataman, of the Muslim autonomous region, and the influential Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula, also strongly condemned the attack. Hataman confirmed that 2 missionaries were killed and 5 others wounded in the attack.

“There is no redeeming such blasphemous murder. It is the highest form of cowardice and obscenity to attack people who are at prayer. We call on the authorities to act with alacrity and thoroughness as they investigate this latest attack, and identify and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law,” said Hataman.

“The goal of terrorism is to sow fear and confusion. We should not allow this to happen. We call on all people of faith – whatever their chosen faith is – to come together in prayer for peace. We must stand united against the terrorists who would divide us and, thus, destroy all that we are working to build and establish in our communities,” he added.

Muslim scholars, in a strong worded statement, called the attack on the mosque and the killings of the missionaries, as “devilish, irrational and inhumane act.”

“The Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula strongly condemns this devilish, irrational and inhumane act. We call upon the Zamboangueños to be calm, yet vigilant with current bombing incident in Masjid. We share the grief of the families who lost their loved ones and sincerely extend our condolences to them in the most comforting manner that a human being may,” it said. (Mindanao Examiner)


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