RP Military Downplays Aussie Terror Warning

September 15, 2007 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 14 Sept) – The Philippine military downplayed Friday a warning by Australia of a possible terror attacks on civilian targets and power installations in Mindanao island, south of Manila.

Australia warned its citizens not to travel to Mindanao, particularly in Zamboanga peninsula, because of credible threats of terrorism. It said terrorists may also strike in the Philippine capital.

“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines because of the high threat of terrorist attack. We continue to receive credible reports that terrorists are planning attacks against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners,” it said on a travel warning posted on the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Mindanao military officials said there were no reports of an impending terror attacks, although security forces remain in heightened alert because of the political situation in the Philippines.

“We have not received any reports that terrorists are planning to attack power installations or populated centers, but troops are always in alert. Mindanao is generally peaceful,” Army Maj. Eugene Batara, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, told the Mindanao Examiner.

In central Mindanao, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division said it has no intelligence reports about a possible terror attacks on civilian targets and power infrastructure in the south.

“It is peaceful now in many parts of Mindanao. People are confident about the peace and order and our forces are troops are always prepared and ready to fight terrorism, with or without the Australian travel warning,” Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, a regional army spokesman, said in a separate interview.

Authorities on Tuesday arrested three Filipinos in Zamboanga City and another in General Santos City and were all linked to terrorism.

Three of those arrested — Marjuni Amala, Aristalon Isniril and Ronely Ahman — were suspected as Abu Sayyaf members and behind a bomb attack in Zamboanga City last month that injured 16 people.

The trio admitted planting the bomb under a concrete bench at Plaza Pershing in downtown Zamboanga on August 21.

Security forces also arrested Maipasagi Gani in General Santos City who was planning to bomb the KCC Mall on Tuesday to coincide with the commemoration of the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks in the United States.

Police seized two homemade bombs from the man believed to have ties with Jemaah Islamiya and the Abu Sayyaf.

A bomb also exploded in a market place in Tacurong City in May and killed three people. There were also bombings across Mindanao since January this year and Australia warned that further attacks are likely and possible targets include places of worship, restaurants, markets, shopping malls, public transport, including bus terminals and airports.

“Infrastructure associated with the Philippines Government such as transport infrastructure, airports, sea ports, oil depots and public buildings are also potential terrorist targets. If you are in these areas you should consider leaving,” it said. (Mindanao Examiner)

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