Philippine Bombings Prompt Prayers

Thursday, April 10, 2003

April 10, 2003

Charlottesville, VA (Christian Aid) -- Philippine missionaries are requesting prayer in the light of recent bombings.

A bomb went off near a wharf in the Philippine city of Davao on April 3 killing at least 16 people and wounding another 52. Six of the deaths were children aged two to 14.

It was the second bombing in Davao in a month. On March 4, a bomb exploded at the Davao Airport killing 21. Davao is the largest city on Mindanao Island.

No one claimed responsibility for the latest bombing, but the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is a prime suspect. The MILF, which has been fighting for a separate Islamic state for 30 years, has denied involvement in either attack.

The second bomb was planted by a row of food stalls and restaurants near the entrance gate of a passenger terminal on the wharf. "One of the people waiting to board the boat was one of our church members," a mission leader told Christian Aid, "but he wasn't hurt."

The MILF and the Philippine government signed a peace agreement in March, 2001, but that hasn't reduced the hostilities. In fact, one Philippine observer said, "I think oppressive governments and terrorist groups think now is the time they can do things, because the world's attention is focused on Iraq." He said he thought there could be as many as a dozen smaller bombings on Mindanao every day that do not make the international news.

"The MILF and the NPA [New People's Army] have always known they cannot defeat the Philippine military, so their strategies have been to fight a protracted guerrilla war replete with terrorism," said Elizabeth Kendal of World Evangelical Alliance. "However, in this sort of warfare, the primary victims are civilians."

A Christian Aid staff person said, "We get requests for prayer from mission leaders in Mindanao almost every day." Their concern is not just for safety, however. One of them wrote, "Help us pray to be more zealous in winning souls. We are sad that this disaster happened in our city. We need your constant prayers."

Christian Aid is assisting several evangelistic ministries in the Davao area. For more information about these ministries or to learn how to help them, write and put MI-414 801-Davao on the subject line.