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Philippines: several injured in bombing near cathedral

 A bomb exploded yesterday near a cathedral in Cotabato, southern Philippines, injuring at least five people, the Missionary News Service reports. The Chief of Police, Ajuli Tadadji, explained that several eyewitnesses saw an unidentified man leave a paper bag in front of the cathedral, minutes before the explosion. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bomb explosion which occurred around 19.45 local time. At least five people were transported to hospital and the cathedral was closed shortly afterwards. Religious sources contacted by MISNA recall that, last October 3, unidentified men launched two grenades against a mosque in Midsayyap, a small town located at about 45km from Cotabato. Four people were killed and 17 injured in that event, including the Islamic preacher, Ismael Datu Kali and the director of the government administration for national irrigation. MISNA sources underline that both attacks may have been carried out to increase tensions in the run up to negotiations between the government and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), the main rebel formation active in the southern Philippines. Talks between the parties are scheduled to take place next month in Malaysia. While 80% of the population of the Philippines is 80% Catholics, a large percentage of Muslims are concentrated in the south of the country.