Islamic militants in the Philippines have desecrated a Catholic church last week when 300 radicals attacked the village of Malagakit on the island of Mindanao.
The Asia-based Catholic news outlet ucannews.com reported that militants associated with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters group stormed a Catholic chapel last Wednesday and destroyed religious iconography in the church.
"The crucifix and images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ were destroyed while the sacred hosts were thrown all over the floor," Chief Inspector Reylan Mamon told ucanews.com.
Fr. Dominic Villa, parish priest of San Blas parish in Pigcawayan, said that statues were also broken by the militants, according to Vatican Radio.
Archbishop of Cotabato Cardinal Orlando Quevedo declared the militants' actions as "wicked" and "irreligious acts that cry out to Heaven."
"Such acts are similar to the desecration of a mosque and the sacred Quran by non-Muslims. Both desecrations are gravely sinful," the archbishop was quoted as saying, adding that the militant organization should punish the ones responsible for the destruction in the church. "If the BIFF wants to have an image as a respecter of all religions, it must punish its members who perpetrated the odious desecration in Malagakit and educate all its members in strictly respecting other religions."
According to ucannews.com, although BIFF is an offshoot of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that has signed a peace deal with the government, BIFF has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
Vatican Radio reports that the militants also vandalized a public elementary school.
The desecration of the chapel in Malagakit comes after Islamic militants believed to have also pledged allegiance to IS (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh), were featured in a video publicized by the IS-linked Amaq News Agency that puports to show them destroying and burning St. Mary's Cathedral in the besieged town of Marawi, which is also on the island of Mindanao. The town was besieged by Maute Group militants in late May.
"We are angered by what happened. Our faith has really been trampled on," Bishop of Marawi Edwin de la Peña told the CBCP News Service at the time. "That is blasphemy!"
According to a Tuesday Reuters report, civilians held hostage in the city are now being forced to loot, fight government soldiers and even become sex slaves for militant fighters.
"This is what is happening inside, this is very evident," military spokesman Jo-Ar Herrera told media during a news conference. "These are evil personalities."
Reuters reports that escapees have detailed how dead bodies of residents have been left in the streets for weeks. Additionally, residents are becoming distressed because of government air strikes.