MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police officials have captured two local sympathizers of the Islamic State group who allegedly tried to detonate a bomb near the U.S. Embassy and prompted authorities to raise a terror alert.
National police chief Director-General Ronald de la Rosa said Thursday the two militants, who were separately arrested on Wednesday, initially wanted but failed to detonate the homemade bomb at Manila's seaside Rizal Park, their initial target.
The bomb, which was designed to explode remotely with the use of a cellphone, also failed to explode near the embassy on Nov. 28 in Manila's tourist and diplomatic section.
Police presented the handcuffed suspects at a news conference, where they also announced a terror alert, which means more road security checkpoints would be set up, and possibly more raids on suspected militant hideouts.
"Don't get alarmed but stay alert," dela Rosa said.
The militants, Rashid Kilala and Jiaher Guinar, belonged to a small Muslim militant group called Ansar Al-khilafa Philippines. After failing to set off the bomb, which was made from an 81mm mortar round, the two decided to leave the explosive in a trash bin near the U.S. Embassy but again failed to set it off.
They wanted to impress the Islamic State group and secure possible funding from the Middle East-based terrorist group, dela Rosa said. They also wanted to divert the military's focus from an offensive against fellow Muslim militants in the south, he said.