Monday, March 21, 2005

Al-Qaeda Plans "Revenge Attacks" In The Philippines

Al-Qaeda-linked militants are planning revenge attacks in key Philippines cities after some of their key leaders were killed in a prison uprising, police said on Friday. Seven suspected terrorists had been ordered to carry out the attacks after the deaths of 22 suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group in the jail revolt earlier this week, the police said. The seven included a member of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiyah network, Abu Yasin, and men who had trained with explosives, raising fears of new bomb attacks, they added. A massive manhunt had been launched for the seven men, national police chief, Director-General Arturo Lomibao, said a statement. Jailed members of the Abu Sayyaf, a militant Muslim group linked by both Washington and Manila to the Al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, staged an attempted jailbreak on Monday that turned into a prison uprising. Three guards and two Abu Sayyaf men were killed in the attempted jailbreak and 22 suspected Abu Sayyaf and a policeman were killed when authorities put down the uprising on Tuesday. Among those slain were senior Abu Sayyaf leaders Galib Andang, alias Commander Robot, and Alhamser Limbong, alias Commander Kosovo, blamed for deadly bombings, kidnappings and murders in the Philippines. Angry Muslim militants have hailed the slain men as martyrs and the Abu Sayyaf has vowed revenge. Police have stepped up security measures to prevent any new attack in Manila and key cities in the southern Philippines and distributed photographs and sketches of the seven suspected bombers to intelligence units nationwide. Details on the seven were provided by Gappal Bana who was arrested earlier this month on charges of supplying the explosives used in a series of bombings in Manila and the south on February 14 that left 12 people dead. The Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the February 14 bombings, saying it was in retaliation for a military offensive against their allies in the south. In a related development, the Interior Department began an investigation into the failed jailbreak on Monday and initially found serious lapses in security. Among these were jail guards bringing their guns with them when making routine headcounts of the inmates, allowing Abu Sayyaf members to seize their firearms, sparking the violence, said Interior Undersecretary Marius Corpuz. The probe will also look into how other handguns and explosives were apparently smuggled into the jail, he added.