Several churches in the Chilean capital of Santiago were attacked last week, just days before the Pope started his tour of the country.

Two churches were set on fire and a firebomb was thrown at another.

Perpetrators left a note threatening Pope Francis, saying the next bombs would be “in your cassock”. Police defused two other homemade devices.

The attacks came amid increasing tensions ahead of the four-day papal visit. The Pope was expected to face protests from indigenous groups as well as over the issue of clerical sex abuse.

Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, who visited the churches that were targeted, said: “We are deeply hurt by these events that contradict the spirit of peace that inspires the Pope’s visit.”

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”.

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