Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cotabato Bomb: Not Everything Affecting Catholics is Aimed at Catholics

Then again, sometimes it is.

And sometimes it's hard to tell.

A Bomb in Cotabato

A bomb exploded in the Philippine city of Cotabato today. The numbers of dead and injured vary with each account, which is normal for the hours after incidents like this. People on the ground are more interested in finding people who need help, or whose bodies need to be cared for: and the aftermath of an explosion tends to be somewhat disorderly.

What I found interesting was how the Catholic connection was being handled:
"Suspected Muslim guerrillas detonated a bomb near a Roman Catholic cathedral in the southern Philippines on Sunday, killing at least five people and wounding 46.

"Pope Benedict XVI condemned the attack.

"The bomb exploded outside the Immaculate Conception cathedral in Cotabato city as churchgoers were attending Mass. Two people were killed instantly in the attack and three others, including a militiaman, later died in hospitals, military officials said..."

"...Cathedral guard Nestor Luna said shrapnel flew in all directions, inflicting wounds on his head, arms and feet...." (AP)
The Associated Press reports, accurately enough, that the bomb went off near a Catholic cathedral, when worshipers were there for Mass. It's not at all unreasonable to assume that the cathedral was the target.

That's an assumption, though. CNN has another angle on the story.
"Three people were killed and 37 injured after a bomb exploded Sunday morning in Cotabato City, Philippines, the military said...."

"...The bomb exploded in a small restaurant, near the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, while Mass was being celebrated, [Philippine armed forces Major Randolph]Cabangbang said. Early reports indicated that the restaurant was targeted.

" 'The wounded and killed were mostly soldiers,' Cabangbang said...." (CNN)
The CNN's reference to and dismissal of the cathedral appears in their fourth paragraph. The BBC paid a bit more attention to the cathedral, and explained why the soldiers were on the scene.
"A bomb blast outside a Roman Catholic cathedral in the southern Philippines has killed five people and injured at least 26 others, officials say...."

"...The bomb went off outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception as people were leaving Mass, the army said.

Police told AFP news agency that two of the dead were soldiers guarding the cathedral....
" (BBC)

"Restaurant?" Well, Sort of

Going back to The Associated Press' story, we may get a closer look at the "restaurant" that CNN indicates may have been the target.
"...The improvised explosive, which was set off remotely by mobile phone, was hidden near a row of food stalls selling roasted pig,..." (AP)
"Restaurant" and "row of food stalls selling roasted pig" aren't exactly the same thing in American English: but both sell food which may be eaten on or near the point of purchase, so both AP and CNN stories could be considered 'accurate.'

Taking a Closer Look: Infidels, Soldiers, and Pork

A Reuters update article gives a bit more detail:
"A bomb exploded outside a church in the southern Philippines during Sunday morning mass, killing five people and wounding 35, an army spokesman said."

"Rogue Muslim rebels were suspected of placing the bomb near a food stall outside the church in Cotabato City, said Colonel Jonathan Ponce. The device was detonated when an army truck was passing, he added."

" 'This is the handiwork of the rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),' Ponce told reporters...."

"...A woman selling roast pork was killed on the spot while four others, including a soldier and three-year-old boy, died in a nearby hospital. Five soldiers were among those wounded, Ponce said."

"Witnesses said the bishop celebrating the mass had just finished reading the gospel and was about to begin his homily when an explosion was heard...." (Reuters)
All four articles identify the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as the group identified as responsible by Philippine authorities. CNN identifies MILF as "an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines." The BBC, citing a Reuters report, quotes the leader of MILF denying the charge. The MILF leader, rather sensibly, said " 'Who needs a Christian-Muslim conflict?' " (BBC)

'Will Suspects and Motives Please Form Two Lines: "A" Through "M," and "N" Through "Z" '

There's no shortage of possible targets:
  • A woman
    • In public
    • Doing business
    • Involving pigs
  • Never mind the woman: the pork might have been the target
  • Soldiers
    • In a passing truck
    • Guarding the cathedral
  • The cathedral and/or its worshipers
The MILF leader may not want open warfare with his bunch against a largely Catholic nation: but it doesn't follow that one of his followers might not have gotten the bright idea to kill two birds with one stone, and target both the soldiers and the non-Muslims: with pigs and an uppity woman thrown in as a sort of bonus.

Here's What I Think: and Don't Think

I don't think the cathedral was the target: but I don't think the cathedral was not the target, either.

The timing of the explosion, during or immediately after Mass, demands consideration of the idea that the Catholic cathedral and/or its worshipers were targets.

But, as I pointed out, there were so many 'enemies of Islam' (as defined by some terrorists) in the area that it's not terribly obvious which was the intended target.

'And the Moral of This Story is - - -

The point of all this is that assumptions are just that: assumptions. They may or may not be true: and determining the truth can be a tedious and difficult task.

Related posts, about assumptions: In the news:

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.