Pope saddened over ‘senseless killing’ in Mindanao, sends condolences
Pope Francis condemned the recent killings of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Central Mindanao, which also left thousands of families displaced ahead of the New Year celebrations.
“The Holy Father was deeply saddened to learn the senseless killing of innocent people in Mindanao, and he sends condolences to the families of those who lost their lives,” Vatican Secretary Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in a statement on Monday.
The BIFF, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which claims to be associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), attacked the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and North Cotabato on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which killed 11 civilians.
“His Holiness prays that security and safety will be established for all people in the region, so that dialogue, tolerance and peace may enable each person to live free from fear,” Parolin said.
“He asks all believers to reject violence in the name of God who is love, and invokes abundant divine gifts of consolation, mercy and strength upon those affected by this tragedy,” he added.
The BIFF said that their attacks were inspired by ISIS.
The government has repeatedly downplayed the claims of armed groups in the Philippines associating themselves to the ISIS, saying that they are just riding on the popularity of the terror group.
The BIFF strongly opposed the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is still pending in Congress. The BBL aims to establish a new Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. RAM
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