Three days ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Chile, a group of “vandals” launched attacks against four churches in Santiago, hurling homemade bombs and leaving behind messages that threatened the life of the 81-year-old pontiff.
At least two of the churches caught on fire as a result of the attacks Thursday night. As they fled, the attackers tossed out leaflets that read:
Pope Francis, the next bomb will be in your robe!
No one was injured in the attacks. Police continue to investigate, but have no suspects or leads from which to work. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said in a radio interview Friday morning:
"In a democracy, people can express themselves as long as it’s done in a pacifist way. What happened last night is very strange. It’s not something that we can tie to a particular group."
The Vatican has not responded to the attacks. According to Reuters, church attacks have become more common in Chile. Pope Francis, a native of neighboring Argentina, is scheduled to arrive Monday. More than 500,000 people are expected to take part in a mass he will officiate Tuesday in a Santiago city park. After visiting Chile, the pontiff is scheduled to visit Peru.