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Three churches bombed ahead of papal visit to Chile

Burn marks on the front of the church of Santa Isabel de Hungria in Santiago de Chile (Getty Images)

Three Catholic churches in the Chilean capital have been bombed just days before Pope Francis begins his tour of the country.

The perpetrators placed incendiary devices in all three churches in Santiago, and in one church left a direct threat to the Pope, saying the next bombs would be “in your cassock”.

Chile’s outgoing president Michelle Bachelet said the events were “very strange, because it is not something that can be identified with one specific group”.

She added: “What I’ve been told is that, for example, [when the Pope visited] Colombia, there were groups there with a little sign [in protest]. In a democracy, people can express themselves as long as they do so in a peaceful and appropriate way.”

[IN FULL: Pope Francis’s schedule for Chile and Peru trip]

Authorities expect some protests over clerical sexual abuse during the Pope’s visit, however this is the first direct threat of violence.

The message in the church was written in Spanish, but with “x”s replacing all letters that signify grammatical gender, a practice typical among activists on the radical left.

The message reads: “We will never submit to the dominion you want to exercise over our bodies, our ideas and actions, because we were born free to chose the path we want to take. Against every monk and nun and against every preacher. Bodies free, impure and wild.”

The perpetrators said they would attack the Pope’s “disgusting morals” with the “fire of combat”.

“Freedom to all the political prisoners of the world! Free Wallmapu [indigenous territory]! Autonomy and resistance! Pope Francis the next bombs will be in your cassock!” the note concludes.

Crux reports that police diffused a fourth explosive in another church. The assailants left graffiti questioning the cost of the trip when “the poor are dying”.

Pope Francis is due to visit Chile from 15 to 18 January.