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Petrol bomb attack on Church in Penang

 | January 27, 2014

Police urged to swiftly put an end to threat to racial and religious harmony in the country.

UPDATED

GEORGE TOWN:  A City Parish church supervisor has called on the police to speed up their investigations and put an end on the current spate of attacks on churches in Penang.

John David said the Molotov cocktail attack on the Church of Assumption in Lebuh Farquahar here early today was a threat to racial and religious harmony in the country.

“Many people and tourists come to this church for prayers. We can’t afford to have such incidents in Malaysia. It’s not good, the police must end this as soon as possible,” said John when met at the church.The Church of Assumption is among four churches under City Parish.

The other three are St Francis Xavier’s Church, Lady of Sorrow Church and St John Britto Catholic Church.

The 228-year-old Church of Assumption was attacked about 1.30am when the church guard heard an explosion and saw a fire near the St Virgin Mary shrine, which sits at the church front.

John said the guard saw a man fleeing from the scene on foot along the main road.

“The guard could not recognise the person because the street light was yellowish and not bright enough. There was also no CCTV nearby to identify the person,” said John.

A controversial banner with the word ‘Allah’ was found outside the church on Sunday morning.

At a press conference this morning, Penang CPO Commissioner Abdul Rahim Hanafi said that initial investigations revealed that two men on a motorcycle committed the crime.

State police chief: Don’t panic

When contacted later, Abdul Rahim said the incident was believed to have occurred at about 1.30am after a security guard heard a small explosion and immediately contacted the police.

He said the police believed the incident could have been in retaliation to the banners bearing the words “Allah is great” and “Allah in the son of Jesus” found hung outside three churches around George Town here yesterday.

A team of police from the forensics department immediate rushed to the scene and found two bottles, containing petrol at the scene.

“Initial investigations showed that the bombs were homemade Molotov cocktails. Only one of the two exploded, causing a small fire and another one fell on grass outside the church building,” he said.

The case, he said, was being investigated under Section 435 of the Penal Code for committing mischief by fire and so far 10 police reports have been lodged.

Rahim also issued a stern warning towards all quarters who were trying to stir up racial tension in the state and cause public unrest.

“Police will not hesitate to take stern action against the culprits as this is a very highly sensitive issue,” he said.

He also gave assurances that the police would increase patrols around all places of worship in the state and called for the public not to panic.

CM: We will defeat violence

When met at the church, the security guard, who is also a church volunteer, Anthony Dass Sinapan, 71, said he saw an unidentified man fleeing the scene.

“However itt was too dark for me to identify the person. All I could recall seeing is a man running away from outside the church and I did not see if he had come in vehicle,” he told FMT.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng visited the church to see the damage and in a statement issued later said the state government would continue to work with all parties and the police to main public order and security.

“All Penangites are urged to remain calm and stand united against these racist and extremist groups so as to maintain peace and harmony.

“The Penang state government will neither bow down nor provoke retaliatory acts against religious extremists and racial bigots now laying siege to Penang but unite all to defeat their violence and hatred with the weapons of social justice and sustainable development,” he said.

No back-up from Perak, says Png police

Penang police, meanwhile, have denied reports that some extra 250 policemen from Ipoh would join the Penang police to increase patrol at churches and mosques in the state following this morning’s Molotov cocktail attack on the Church of the Assumption in George Town.

“Where did you hear this from? Penang police have 6,000 police personnel and we believe we have enough manpower when it comes to patrolling and investigating cases.”

“So far we have received a total twelve reports regarding the race based cases and are still in the midst of investigating all cases,” said Penang CID Chief Mazlan Kesah when contacted here today.


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