Metro Manila safe from 'direct threat' after Sulu blasts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2019 07:20 AM

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The Metro Manila police on Monday said it has not monitored any direct threat to the region following Islamic State-claimed bombings that left 8 dead near a military camp in the restive south last week. 

Friday's blasts -- which killed 3 soldiers, 3 civilians and 2 suspected bombers in Indanan, Sulu -- bear the hallmarks of a suicide bombing, the military said. 

Hours after the attack, the National Capital Region Police Office went on full alert to increase the visibility of its officers, said the unit's chief, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar. 

"Wala tayong direct threat dito sa Metro Manila pero mas maganda nang lagi tayong handa," he told radio DZMM. 

(We have no direct threat here in Metro Manila but it's better that we're always prepared.) 

The full alert status will be downgraded based on the findings of the military's Western Mindanao Command, which is investigating the blast, Eleazar added. 

He urged the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or individuals. 

The main suspect in Friday's blasts is kidnap-for-ransom group and IS-affiliate Abu Sayyaf, which has carried out some of the nation's worst attacks.

IS claimed the assault was the work of 2 suicide attackers, according to tweets from Rita Katz, the director of SITE Intelligence Group which monitors jihadist activities worldwide. 

Suicide attacks are generally rare in the Philippines, but the tactic has been used in two major incidents in the last 12 months: the January bombing of a Catholic cathedral during Sunday mass and a van bomb at a military checkpoint on the island of Basilan in July 2018, authorities said. 

The Philippines has received sustained attention from IS as it works to maintain a presence via its global affiliates following the fall of its self-proclaimed "caliphate" in the Middle East.

The Muslim areas of the south are home to numerous armed groups, several of which are linked to the decades-old insurgency aiming to create a homeland in the Christian-majority nation.

With a report from Agence France-Presse 

DZMM, July 1, 2019