SANTIAGO – Three Catholic churches were the target of arson attacks in Chile during the early hours of Tuesday, hours after Pope Francis arrived in the country, police said.
The attacks affected Catholic churches in the town of Cunco, about 700 kilometers from Santiago, in the region of La Araucanía, which were totally consumed by the flames, said Cooperativa Psblo Oackley, commander of the local fire brigade.
The chapels attacked “were in the area of Lagunillas and Río Negro and the flames started simultaneously in both places,” Oacley said.
“The chapels were consumed absolutely, there was no vestige left so it will be difficult to determine the origin and cause of the fire,” he added. The police, meanwhile, perform various skills in order to find clues to find the authors.
Pope Francisco, in the framework of his visit to Chile, which will last until Thursday, will arrive on Wednesday at La Araucanía, where he will lead a mass in Temuco, the capital of the region.
In Puente Alto, a municipality adjacent to Santiago, meanwhile, an arson attack affected the parish Mother of Divine Providence, which resulted in considerable damage, according to the police.
According to neighbors of the sector, five people threw incendiary bombs towards the exterior door of the building, besides burning a Chilean flag and another of the Vatican. With the attacks on Tuesday, a total of nine Catholic churches have been the target of arson attacks or explosives since last week in Chile.
The Pope will also visit, next Thursday, the city of Iquique, in the north of the country.