Philippines concerned over 'emerging' terror threat
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine security forces expressed concern over an "emerging threat" of terrorism, after suicide attackers struck the Indonesian capital on Thursday, January 14.
"Our security forces are well aware of the emerging threat and have been conducting operations to prevent terror acts anywhere in the country," said a joint Philippine military and police statement on the Jakarta incident.
Indonesian police said 5 suspects and two civilians were killed, while 10 other people were injured, after a series of explosions and gunfire tore through a Starbucks cafe in Jakarta and shook an embassy district.
Indonesian authorities suspect a local group linked to Islamic State jihadists (ISIS), which control large swathes of Iraq and Syria, of carrying out the latest attacks, though the identities of the attackers have yet to be established.
Malacañang called on Filipinos to exercise "heightened vigilance" following the attacks.
"Government affirms the call of the AFP and the PNP for our citizens to exercise heightened vigilance in support of our security forces' concerted efforts to address the threats posed by terror elements," Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a statement.
'No specific threats'
Military spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla told Agence France-Presse there had been no recent specific threats picked up by the authorities in the Philippines.
However, he said the police and military forces continued to monitor the "usual threats from local terrorist groups, such as the BIFF and ASG."
The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), blamed for many of the Catholic nation's deadliest bombings, as well as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Muslim guerrillas, have pledged allegiance to Islamic State fighters.
The military has said both groups had in the past sheltered foreign militants fleeing prosecution for the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia.
The Philippine military has repeatedly said that there is "no ISIS" in the country, but experts have warned the Philippine government not to underestimate the group.
Rappler earlier reported a new video circulating on the dark web jihadi forum Shumukh al-Islam on January 4, 2016, indicating that ISIS may soon declare a province in southern Philippines. (READ: ISIS to declare province in Mindanao?) – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com