Terrorists bombed three Catholic churches in Chile Thursday night and attempted to decimate a fourth, leaving a direct threat against Pope Francis ahead of his Monday visit.
The unknown perpetrators attempted attacks on four Catholic churches with various kinds of improvised explosive devices, one of which was successfully defused, in what authorities believe to be a protest against Francis’ visit to Chile, according to Crux Now. Authorities have yet to identify the terrorists and are not sure whether one group or several are responsible for the bombings, though at least one group left threatening pamphlets bearing the message “Pope Francis, the next bombs will be in your cassock.”
“We will never submit to the dominion you want to exercise over our bodies, our ideas and actions, because we were born free to chose the path we want to take. Against every religious man and woman and against every preacher,” read the pamphlets, which the perpetrators allegedly left at the Church of Saint Isabel of Hungary.
“Bodies free, impure and wild. We attack with the combative fire-making your disgusting moral explosion. Freedom to all the political prisoners of the world, Wallmapu [indigenous territory] free, autonomy and resistance…Pope Francis, the next bombs will be in your cassock,” the pamphlets added.
Perpetrators left another message on the wall of the church of Christ the Poor, where police defused the fourth explosive device, condemning Francis’ travel expenses while the “poor are dying.”
Chilean official Pablo Orrego ardently condemned the attacks on Twitter, calling for the eradication of violence and demanding respect for Francis.
Como @IntendenciaRM condenamos enérgicamente los atentados contra parroquias ocurridos en las últimas horas. El vandalismo y la violencia deben ser erradicadas entre nosotros. El Papa Francisco es un líder espiritual mundial y además un jefe de Estado, y merece respeto de todos!
— Claudio Orrego (@Orrego) January 12, 2018
Father Fernando Ibáñez witnessed part of one of the attacks and said that he heard a gang of youths shouting curses outside his window shortly before fire sprang up at the church.
“I heard the dog bark, and from my window I saw the flame,” Ibáñez told Radio Coopertiva. “I woke up and told the parish priest, Father Cristian. The neighbors were screaming, shouting at us, and all I could to is bring the hose out and begin to put the fire down.”
Mahmud Aleuy, Chile’s Interior Sub-secretary, said that despite the pamphlets, the wall message and Ibáñez’s account, authorities do not have enough information to implicate any one group. The perpetrators used different explosive devices for the arson attacks, utilizing a fire extinguisher inside a plastic bin for two of the attacks, an incendiary device for a third, and another explosive device comprised partly of a gas canister, which the authorities disarmed.
The attacks, according to Aleuy, “have similarities but are not necessarily connected. You know that there are many groups that act individually.”
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