Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

US warns of possible terror attack in Philippines

US warns of possible terror attack in Philippines

The United States and four other countries warned of possible terrorist attacks in Manila and elsewhere in the Philippines, sparking a security alert on Wednesday in the sprawling capital.
The U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand have previously issued similar security alerts for the volatile southern Philippines, where Muslim rebels and al-Qaida militants are active. But this time, the four specifically mentioned Manila as a possible target in their latest travel advisories.
Australia, citing unspecified but reliable reports, said an attack in the capital may be "imminent."
The four governments and Britain warned their citizens visiting the Philippines to stay away from shopping malls, convention centers and places frequented by foreigners. The warnings did not identify the source of the threat or release other details.
"Reliable reports indicate that terrorist attacks may be imminent in Manila," said Australia's advisory, posted on a government website.
Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Wednesday that the military and police have not uncovered any specific threat but that the government is taking no chances.
Government forces were on full alert in the capital. Police, backed by new motorcycle patrol units, have beefed up security in hotels, shopping malls, air and seaports, train stations and other public areas.
U.S. and Australian Embassy officials contacted by The Associated Press did not elaborate on their governments' advisories.
British Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Colin Crorkin said his country's assessment of the high risks of terrorist strikes in the Philippines had not changed but added that his government recently included additional possible targets such as airports, malls and places of worship.
A Philippine official said the warnings may have come from a confidential terrorist threat assessment report by Western security officials indicating that Muslim extremists may attack a popular Manila mall, a trade center and political figures, including two Manila-based Asian diplomats. The official, who monitors security threats, spoke on condition of anonymity due to a lack of authority to talk to the press.
Gazmin told the AP that the government sent intelligence agents to verify the threat. Authorities also plan to ask the U.S., Australian and British embassies to provide more details.
"We are taking this seriously, and we know that this is creating apprehension," Gazmin said. "We have deployed intelligence agents, but they have not come back with anything specific."
He said he discussed with the military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ricardo David, the possible deployment of marines to shopping malls and other public areas. However, Gazmin was reluctant to take that step, which has been sharply criticized in the past by leftist lawmakers.
The Philippines, including its capital, has been hit by deadly terrorist attacks in the past.
Despite years of battle setbacks, Muslim militants, including those from the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf, have continued to plot attacks, at times collaborating with Indonesian militants belonging to the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network, according to the military.
Abu Sayyaf militants were blamed for the bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay in 2004, setting off an inferno that killed 116 people.
Police, meanwhile, captured a suspected Abu Sayyaf militant, Patta Hoyoy, in Culiat village in the capital on Wednesday. He allegedly played a role in kidnappings in the south.
Police said the arrest was unrelated to the security clampdown in the capital.


Updated : 2021-04-24 01:31 GMT+08:00