Zamboanga City, other areas warned of terrorists’ threats
ZAMBOANGA CITY— National intelligence advisers have warned of possible terrorist attacks in several areas of the country during the holiday season, according to the city’s police chief.
Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro told reporters on Tuesday that the National Intelligence Board’s (NIB) special monitoring committee “Bravo” had come out with a “high terrorism” threat level over many parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula, the entire Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and the popular tourist destinations of Palawan province and Boracay Island in Aklan province.
The NIB, which serves as the advisory body to the chief of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency for the coordination and integration of intelligence activities in the government, placed a Threat Level 3 over these areas for December during a meeting on Nov. 26, Casimiro said.
“It is based on this declassified document coming from the board,” he said.
Casimiro said the classification came after “persistent reports” that “suggest[ed] the intention of the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) and the [Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, or BIFF] to launch bomb attacks and engage in kidnap-for-ransom activities.”
“These are the two parameters per report of the NIB,” he said.
While the BIFF was considered confined in Maguindanao province and some parts of Central Mindanao, the Abu Sayyaf has been known to regularly venture out of its comfort zone. Its kidnapping activities even extend to Sabah in Malaysia.
The ASG, listed as a terror organization by the United States, was also blamed for the Rizal Day bombings in Metro Manila on Dec. 30, 2000, which resulted in the deaths of 22 people and injuries to dozens.
Casimiro said the southern portion of Negros Island, the town of Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat province, Kidapawan City and areas of Kabacan, Midsayap and Aleosan towns in North Cotabato province had also been placed under the same threat level.
“While intelligence agencies suggest that there are threats of terroristic activities, the military will not let its guard down,” said Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command based here. “We have been conducting relentless operations to prevent terrorist groups in carrying out these actions and neutralize them.”
Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar urged all police, military and enforcement operatives in the city to “maintain a heightened level of alert, no matter what the national threat is, to make sure we are always on our toes to prevent any eventuality.”
She welcomed the recent arrival of a team from the Army’s Light Reaction Company to help intensify security in the city.
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