21 Killed in Airport Bomb Blast

5 March 2003

Twenty-one people, including an American Christian missionary, have been killed
by a bomb planted by Islamic militants at Davao airport on Tuesday 4 March.

Over 150 people are reported to have been wounded in the explosion.  Davao is
the second largest city in the Philippine’s, and the largest on Mindanao, where
Islamic militant groups are fighting for an Islamic homeland.  However, the
city has a majority-Christian population making it a major target for Islamic
rebels.  Elsewhere on Mindanao fourteen Christians, including three children,
were killed when Islamic rebels staged a brutal attack on their village on 19
February.

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.  Yesterday’s bomb and the
earlier brutal attack on a Christian village are believed to have been staged
in response to this.  Majority-Christian cities, towns and villages of the
southern Philippines 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 bombing.

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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