ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, Jan 10, 2010 - A grenade went off on Sunday outside a Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island which has seen bloody Muslim extremist attacks in recent years, the military said.
Unidentified men hurled the grenade before dawn in Jolo island's capital town of Jolos, said Brigadier General Rustico Guerrero, head of an anti-terrorism task force.
The blast shattered some cathedral windows but no one was injured.
Previous grenade explosions in the area have been blamed on the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group linked by intelligence agencies to the Al-Qaeda network.
However, Guerrero said there were no immediate suspects in the latest blast.
Jolo, a Muslim-dominated island with a Christian minority, has long been a haunt of the Abu Sayyaf who are blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history.
In September, two US soldiers who were training local forces against the Abu Sayyaf were killed by a roadside bomb planted by the extremists on Jolo island.
Philippine province of Sulu, police said.
The blast damaged window panes of the Our Lady of the Mount Carmel cathedral in the capital town of Jolo. “There were no reports of casualties in the explosion and authorities are still investigating the attack," said Senior Superintendent Bienvenido Latag, the regional police chief.
He said the grenade exploded at around 5:40 a.m. at the church wall, and that no group or individual claimed responsibility for the incident. But previous attacks on the cathedral were largely blamed to the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.
“We still don’t know who was behind this latest attack," Latag said.
On New Year’s Eve, a grenade also exploded in front of the Cathedral, wounding one government soldier guarding it.
The church was also targeted twice last year. In October 27, a grenade was lobbed by an unidentified man at the back of the cathedral and the explosion damaged several windows. Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants also detonated a homemade bomb in front of the church in June last year, killing six people.
Church officials in Sulu could not be contacted for comments on the latest attack.
For years, soldiers and policemen have been guarding the cathedral because of threats of Abu Sayyaf attacks against priests and nuns.
In 1997, Abu Sayyaf militants shot dead Sulu Bishop Benjamin de Jesus as he was walking in front of the cathedral. And three years later, militants also shot dead another priest Benjamin Inocencio in Jolo town. The Abu Sayyaf was also blamed for the kidnapping of two Spanish nuns and an American missionary in Jolo in the 1990s.
In July last year, a blast killed at least six people when an improvised explosive device (IED) placed in a motorcycle outside a hardware store near the Mount Carmel Church
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