Manila sounds alarm on ‘new face of terror’

Soldiers walk past the body of a man slumped beside a tricycle following an armed attack in front of the temporary headquarters of the army's First Brigade Combat team, in Jolo on the southern island of Mindanao on June 28, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 02 July 2019

Manila sounds alarm on ‘new face of terror’

  • Suicide bombers pose growing threat, defense minister warns after latest attack

MANILA: Philippines officials on Monday voiced growing alarm over what they described as the “changing face of terrorism” in the country following the suicide attack on an army command post on the island of Sulu.

Eight people, including three soldiers and two suspected bombers, were killed in twin explosions near the military counterterrorism base on June 28.

Speaking on Monday, Delfin Lorenzana, Philippines national defense secretary, described the attack as a worrying development that highlighted the rising terror threat in the country.

The attack on the army counter-terrorism facility is the third suicide strike since July 31 last year when a Moroccan suspect struck on Basilan island. Then, on Jan. 27, a suicide attack by an Indonesian couple devastated the Mount Carmel Cathedral on Jolo island, also in Sulu, killing 20 people.

“It’s becoming (a more frequent) occurrence and we are very concerned about this,” Lorenzana said on the sidelines of the Disaster Emergency Logistics Systems for ASEAN at Camp Aguinaldo.

“This has raised the level of extremism here and I think we have a lot of work to do, to talk to the leaders on the ground, the traditional leaders, the sultans, the datus, and also officials from BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao).

“I think they do not want that happening in their area. They want peace so that development will take place,” he said.

The attacks have occurred despite the implementation of martial law in Mindanao since 2017. However, Lorenza said that martial law is not the answer to every security threat.

“Martial law is not the solution to all these threats because an individual or two individuals can go anywhere — we have not controlled the movement of people in Mindanao. You can basically go anywhere you want without any checkpoints sometimes,” he said. 

Daesh claimed responsibility for the latest attack, but Lorenzana said that the military and police are waiting for DNA test results before drawing any conclusions.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker urged the coming 18th Congress to further tighten security legislation following Friday’s bomb attack. 

Rep. Jericho Nograles said the incident “could be a sign that suicide bombing is becoming the weapon of choice for Islamic extremists in the country.” 

He urged the Congress to amend the 2007 Human Security Act, saying that without changes to the law “our armed forces and police cannot fully protect us.”

“These brazen attacks must be stopped, Nograles said. “The military and police can only do so much to protect us from this new method of terror.

“We need the cooperation of our people so that we can bring the perpetrators to justice.” 

He described Sulu as “the playground of foreign terrorists who come to our country either through the back door or through the airports disguised as religious or tourist visits.”

“I think the Anti-Terrorism Council should order a prompt and full review on existing protocols defending our nation against terrorists,” Nograles said.

“We see our domestic terrorists being influenced by a global terror movement inspired by groups such as Daesh, which use the most extreme violence to advance their causes. We need protection from these influencers as well.”

Afghan security forces fail to reach ‘Taliban-mined’ site of US military plane crash

Updated 28 January 2020

Afghan security forces fail to reach ‘Taliban-mined’ site of US military plane crash

  • Probe launched into cause of Monday’s incident as Taliban claim responsibility for shooting down jet

KABUL: Afghan security forces have so far been unable to reach the crash site of a US military aircraft which went down during a mission on Monday in a Taliban-controlled area of the country.
An investigation is underway to determine what caused the Bombardier E-11A plane to crash in the Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, about 120 km southwest of Kabul, although the Taliban have claimed responsibility for shooting it down.

“The Taliban have mined the area, and security forces could not make it to the site to retrieve the bodies and recover the aircraft last evening. The Taliban had laid an ambush as security forces tried to reach the site,” Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, head of Ghazni’s provincial council, told Arab News.
He added that other US aircraft had attempted to land in the area overnight but were forced back due to bad weather.
Aref Noori, a spokesman for Ghanzi’s governor, said: “Afghan and foreign forces are preparing a joint plan to go to the site to see what they can do.”
Authorities have yet to determine how many passengers and crew were on board.
Several members of the provincial council said they had heard from locals that four people on board the plane had escaped the site of the crash soon after it came down. However, the reports could not be confirmed by the US military or other officials.
The crash comes amid a push by the Taliban and US diplomats to restart peace talks which are aimed at ending the 18-year-old conflict in the country.