by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - In the latest of a wave of arson attacks on churches in Chile, two churches in the Biobio region were burned to the ground on October 12, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports. The attacks on both Protestant and Catholic churches in Chile began in 2015.
In a statement to local media, Pastor Pedro Liguenpi of the “Nuevo Pacto Pentecostal Cristiano” (New Covenant Pentecostal Christian) Church, based in the Bajo Quilantahue sector of Tirúa Commune, Arauco Province, said arsonists burned down his church at around 2.30 am on October 12, CSW reports.
Some 40 minutes later, at 3.10 am, a Catholic church in the Primer Agua sector of Tirúa Commune, Arauco Province was also destroyed by fire, ICC reports.
There have been more than 40 organized arson attacks against religious buildings in the regions of Biobío and La Araucanía since 2015, CSW said. In most cases, the arsonists were found to belong to militant Mapuche indigenous separatist movements.
CSW Head of Advocacy Anna-Lee Stangl said in a statement about the attacks: “We are deeply concerned by the latest arson attacks on Catholic and Protestant churches in Biobío, Chile, and the wider violence in the region. We call on those responsible, whatever their motive, to cease targeting places of worship and to respect religious freedom. We also encourage the government to continue its investigations while respecting the human rights of the population, and extend our solidarity to the members and leaders of all affected churches who have suffered devastating losses.”