MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Security forces went on full alert in the southern Philippines on Sunday after military intelligence told sightings of militants in the region after the detention of a top Al-Qaeda-allied leader.
Last week, a squad of soldiers and police officers detained Khair Mundos, an adept bomb-maker and a top leader of the Abu Sayyaf group, who was behind the kidnapping of foreigners.
Mundos is wanted by the United States, which put a $500,000 reward up for his arrest.
“Information received with high reliability, exposed a possible terrorist threat to the peace and security of Region 11, particularly in Davao City,” Chief Superintendent Reuben Sindac, national police spokesman, said in a statement.
President Benigno Aquino III summoned the Davao City mayor to spread the possible threat. Local officials conducted a meeting on Saturday night with security officials to gage protection at shopping malls, parks and transport terminals.
“All police forces in Mindanao have already been notified to gripe up security operations against possible access of suspected members of said reported threat groups,” an army intelligence officer told Reuters.
“We are preparing for possible avenging attacks from militants to avenge the detention of Mundos,” the officer added.
Abdul Usman Basit, brother-in-law of Khair Mundos and a member of the militant group’s special operations unit, was seen in the city. He trained under Malaysian bomb-maker and Jemaah Islamiyah leader Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan, also on the US terrorist list.
Marwan has a $5 million reward from the US State Department for his arrest while Basit Usman has a $1 million reward. Both were earlier reported killed in airstrikes but survived with some gashes.
The Philippines and the country’s largest rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), contracted a peace agreement in March, ending nearly five decades of conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people, moved 2 million and stunted growth in the resource-rich south of the mainly Catholic state.
JEANE MARIE M. FAMINOGAN
LNU ABCOM INTERN