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Philippines on alert for Holy Week terror attacks

MANILA (UCAN): Philippine authorities have warned of possible terrorist attacks following reports of a new leader, Abu Dar, taking the reins of the so-called Islamic State group in the region.
Security officials said the new leader of the terrorist group in Southeast Asia, has the capability, resources and connections to carry out attacks.
Philippine military spokesperson, Brigadier General Bienvenido Datuin, said authorities are closely monitoring Manila to ensure that terrorism does not strike there.
He declined to identify areas that may be targeted by the terrorist group, but he assured that these places “are under close watch from us right now.”
Datuin said the military has information that Dar’s group is “organising, recruiting and retraining ... and we cannot discount the possibility of an attack.”
Catholic Church leaders, meanwhile, warned Filipinos to be vigilant, especially during the observance of Holy Week.
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, said, “There are always groups out to make trouble” and appealed for everyone to respect religious observances.
Father Jerome Secillano of the public affairs office of the bishops’ conference said, “The public should be vigilant lest we become victims of possible terror acts.”
He asked law enforcement officials not only to tighten security around places of worship during Holy Week but to also “be more visible in public.”
He said, “They should improve and make intelligence gathering efficient and truly reliable.”
On March 3, security forces arrested, Abdul Nasser Lomondot, a leading figure in the terrorist group that attacked the city of Marawi in Mindanao last year. His arrest in Manila fuelled reports that terror cells were planning to launch attacks in the capital.
Security officials said there is a possibility that some who escaped the military dragnet in Mindanao are hiding in Manila.

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