PIKIT, Philippines (AP) — Two men on a motorcycle fired a grenade at the main gate of a Protestant church in the southern Philippines late Wednesday, killing two churchgoers and wounding three others, police said.
It was not immediately clear if Muslim rebels were involved in the attack at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines church in Pikit town in North Cotabato province, police said. The attackers escaped.
Pikit police chief Mautin Pangandigan, said the grenade was fired from an M203 launcher.
Pangandigan said a 54-year-old nurse was declared dead on arrival at a hospital and a 39-year-old public school teacher died later from her wounds. He said another teacher and two businessmen were wounded.
Pastor Jerry Sanchez told a local radio station there were at least 40 people inside the church at the time.
"We have no idea why this thing happened. We condemn this act," Sanchez said, adding that his church has been actively promoting peace in the community.
Government forces have been on alert for possible attacks by a breakaway group of hard-line rebels opposed to a recently signed peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the largest Muslim insurgent group.
The peace pact aims to establish a more powerful autonomous region for Muslims in the south of the largely Catholic nation but a few hundred breakaway rebels have vowed to continue fighting for a separate Muslim homeland.
Aside from the insurgency, violent clan feuds are also a security concern in the south.