Fourteen Killed in Attack on Christian Village

3 March 2003

Fourteen Christians, including three children, have been brutally killed in an
attack on a Christian village in the southern Philippines by Islamic
separatists.

Some 50 rebels entered the village, located on the Zamboanga peninsula, on the
southern island of Mindanao, on 19 February and rounded up the defenceless
villagers before opening fire on them.  One child is reported to have died in
his mother’s arms, three others were injured and three more are reported
missing.  Grenades were also thrown into homes, others were raked with bullets
and set ablaze.

SEPARATIST VIOLENCE
Islamic separatists in the majority-Christian Philippines have been fighting
for an independent Islamic homeland in the south of the country for the 5
million Muslim Filipino community since 1972.  Two Islamic militant groups, the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), mainly operative on Mindanao, and the
smaller and more extreme Abu Sayyaf, mainly in Basilan and Jolo, are at the
forefront of the current violence.  The army began a new offensive against the
MILF in Mindanao on 10 February in which some 200 rebels are reported to have
been killed and over 80,000 local resident displaced.  The attack on the
Christian village is believed to have been staged in response to this, although
no group has claimed responsibility.  Majority Christian villages are often
targeted by Islamic militants.  Christian ministers and missionaries have in
the past been singled out for particular torture and gruesome execution because
of their faith.

PRAY
Pray for healing for those who were wounded and comfort for the grieving
relatives of those who were killed in this latest terrible attack.

Pray for peace and a final end to the Islamic separatist conflict in the
southern Philippines, in which so many Christians have lost their lives.

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