Philippines on alert for terror attack

AP News
Posted: Jun 29, 2014 11:46 AM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president and police on Sunday warned of a possible terrorist attack in the south and ordered security to be beefed up in the volatile region.

President Benigno Aquino III's spokesman, Herminio Coloma Jr., said that Aquino called Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the port city of Davao to relay details of the threat and call for heightened public vigilance.

Coloma did not release details, but a military intelligence official told reporters that a Muslim rebel with links to the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah militant network, Basit Usman, is believed to be planning to attack Davao or two other southern cities with a car bomb and home-made explosives.

The plot could be in retaliation for a recent government assault that killed two of Usman's associates and led to the arrest of his wife.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge details of the plot.

The national police said in a press statement that the information about the terrorist threat was "received with high reliability," but they could not divulge details so as not to compromise ongoing security operations in the areas that could face attacks.

Security patrols and road checkpoints had been heightened to thwart any attack, police said, and appealed to the public to provide helpful information.

The southern Philippines, home to the country's minority Muslims who have waged a decades-old insurgency for self-rule, has faced numerous terrorist attacks from al-Qaida-inspired groups like the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. Although U.S.-backed Philippine offensives have weakened the groups, a few hundred militants remain and are considered a national security threat.