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DND: Prior to govt warning, no evidence found in suspected terrorist lairs


Authorities failed to recover evidence in raids conducted on suspected terrorist safe houses before the government came out with a warning of a supposed plot to bomb the ongoing Black Nazarene procession, Defense chief Voltaine Gazmin said Monday.
 
Over the weekend, Gazmin said two raids were conducted at the Baseco Compound in Manila and another one in Rizal province in an attempt to foil the supposed terrorist plot.
 
“There have been raids on several safe houses but have yielded negative results. As of the moment, there is continuous monitoring of suspected areas and (suspicious) personnel joining the procession,” Gazmin told reporters Monday.
 
He added that his department received reports that the terrorists assembled a bomb in Metro Manila, but government troops “have not seen any trace” of explosives in the suspected safe houses.  
 
Despite the results of the raids, President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday still warned the public of the terror threat to the traditional Black Nazarene procession, and urged devotees to just stay at home for their safety. 
 
Gazmin justified the President’s move by saying that the government wanted “to be prepared than sorry” of any untoward incident during the procession.
 
“The feast of the Nazarene is a very, very big target. There is a big possibility that it would create pandemonium… We should be alarmed even with a small report,” he said.
 
“Even if its reliability is not that good, we should take all the necessary precautions because it will create havoc if (the attack) happens,” added Gazmin, who last served as commander of the Philippine Army while in the active service.
 
An Agence France-Presse report said that around 3 million people still flocked to Manila to join the procession — one of the most spectacular Roman Catholic festivals in the country.
 
Gazmin further said that authorities are still validating information on six to nine terrorists spotted in Metro Manila who are allegedly involved in the plot to bomb the Nazarene procession.
 
He, however, declined to name the suspects, although he said that they are linked either to the Abu Sayyaf bandit group or to the Special Operations Group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. — RSJ, GMA News
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 January 9, 2012 4:20pm

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