Philippines on heightened alert after Indonesia bombings: police | world | Hindustan Times
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Philippines on heightened alert after Indonesia bombings: police

world Updated: Jul 18, 2009 12:03 IST

Police across the Philippines were placed on heightened alert on Saturday over fears the country's homegrown Islamists could try to emulate the Jakarta hotel bombings, a spokesman said.

The public was also urged to report anyone acting suspiciously or leaving any baggage behind in public places like malls, bus terminals and hotels, national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Leonardo Espina said.

"We are in touch with security details of hotels and places of heavy public convergence like malls and terminals," Espina told local radio.

He said police have also deputized community watch groups "to check for all suspicious looking persons" and vehicles in public places.

"We are on heightened alert in Metro Manila and full alert in Mindanao," Espina said, referring to the country's strife-torn southern island where Islamic militants with links to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Al Qaeda are known to operate.

Espina said police were told to intensify security checkpoints on highways and roads in and around Manila.

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said more than 200 closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) were to be installed in public areas in Manila beginning on Saturday to increase police surveillance capability.

He said the cameras will be placed in so-called 'soft targets' including hotels, malls, movie theaters and bus terminals.

Ordnance experts and canine units were also deployed, he said.

Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo in a statement said the Philippines 'strongly condemns' the bombing of two five-star hotels in Jakarta on Friday.

"These dastardly and inhumane acts all the more reinforce the need for vigilance and greater and deeper cooperation regionally and globally, to counter, prevent and suppress all acts of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," Romulo said.

The Indonesian bombings come barely two weeks after three bomb attacks in Mindanao left at least eight dead and over 100 injured. One of the attacks was blamed on the Abu Sayyaf, while the other two were blamed on rogue members of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Manila has said it is keen to find out whether the Abu Sayyaf and the JI had worked together in carrying out the Philippine and Jakarta bombings.

The Abu Sayyaf, based on remote islands near the sea border with Indonesia, are blamed for the worst terrorist attacks in the Philippines and are alleged to be harbouring JI militants blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings.