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Dangerous times ahead, terror threats persist

PRESIDENT DUTERTE has urged Congress to pass measures that will provide police and military with more equipment to fight terrorism following last month’s twin suicide bombings outside an army base in the southern province of Sulu.
Police said 2 pro-ISIS suicide bombers who were Abu Sayyaf members carried out the attacks in Indanan town. Five soldiers were among those killed in the attacks that also wounded a dozen more. Eight civilian casualties were also reported by the police. One of the bombers had been identified as Norman Lacusa and the other only by his alias “Black.”
Duterte, who was briefed by the military on the bombings, said he sees “dangerous times ahead” as terror threats persist in the restive region where ISIS managed to influence the bombers to carry out the deadly attacks.
An undated photo obtained by the police also showed the bombers clad in white vest rigged with explosives posing side by side with a black ISIS flag. One of the attackers, police said, previously surrendered to the military. But it was unknown what drove him to re-join his group and eventually ended up a suicide bomber. This is believed to be the first suicide bombing mission of the Abu Sayyaf and first for Filipino terrorists.
 
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the suicide attacks which occurred during an extended martial rule in the region where security forces are battling several pro-ISIS groups and communist insurgency. It also released a video recently showing Abu Sayyaf fighters in Sulu renewing their pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
 
Security has been tightened in Sulu after the bombings with policemen and soldiers putting up additional checkpoints and roadblocks to deter future attacks by terrorists.
 
Duterte, who previously ordered the military to destroy the Abu Sayyaf, said: “I hope that Congress would tide us over to complete the instruments that we need in dealing, especially with terrorism. I hope that by the time I make my exit, nandiyan na lahat ‘yan because I am not belittling the events to come or the person coming in to be the next president. I’d rather, that I leave with a strong military and police and equipped to challenge the enemies of the state, especially terrorism.”
“I see very dangerous times ahead. And I hope that we will be able to contain whatever there is to really to… Lumalabas nga ‘yung pawis sa kamay ko just thinking about if it would go awry outside of Sulu and Basilan Islands,” he said.
Duterte strongly stressed the need to continue acquiring more military assets and equipment because of the terror threats. “So that I said, I must be prepared and nabili ko na ho ‘yung mga kailangan, but there are still a few things that I must have for my Armed Forces and the police. And one of these days, I will call for a, just for a time to talk and we’ll talk about it because it’s really needed by the country,” he said.
Police spokesman Colonel Bernard Banac described Duterte’s remark as an “accurate and honest assessment” of trends in terrorism, transnational crime, and cross-border criminal activities, noting these problems required greater flexibility and capability of military and police forces. (Mindanao Examiner and Zamboanga Post. With reports from Azer Parrocha and Christopher Lloyd Caliwan.)
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