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Churches attacked, Chile reviews security ahead of Pope's visit

A series of attacks on Catholic churches have prompted Chilean authorities to review security ahead of Pope Francis' ...

Posted: Jan 14, 2018 8:10 PM
Updated: Jan 14, 2018 8:10 PM

A series of attacks on Catholic churches have prompted Chilean authorities to review security ahead of Pope Francis' visit to the South American country on Monday, officials said.

But Interior Minister Mario Fernandez told radio station BioBioChile Saturday that the Pope will not be at risk during the first papal visit since John Paul II visited Chile in 1987.

Fernandez said the devices used in the church attacks were crude and homemade. He told the station the attackers, whom he did not identify, were part of "small groups with limited capabilities."

On Friday morning, vandals set fires, hurled a homemade device and left pamphlets threatening the Pope in at least five churches in Chile's capital of Santiago, according to the Catholic ACI Prensa news service.

There were no injuries and the damage was minor, officials said.

In a statement, Deputy Interior Secretary Aleuy Mahmud said authorities were reviewing security and expected that papal visit to take place without incident.

He said church and government officials had also met with President Michelle Bachelet to discuss logistics of the visit.

Pope Francis, a native of Argentina and the first Latin American pope, will travel to Peru after Chile.

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