Philippine security official warns of terrorist attacks

The Philippines' top national security official renewed warnings of possible terrorist attacks in the capital and requestaed citizens to keep calm despite political turmoil.

"I am repeating them because I am afraid that the political environment could be clouding the situation," National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said, referring to efforts to impeach the president. "I do not want the public's attention to be distracted. They have to know that this threat is real."

He said attacks could occur at any time, based on roughly six-month "cycles" of terror activities in the Philippines.

In July, two separate bombings in southern Zamboanga city wounded 30 people. An incendiary bomb exploded on a ferry on Sunday on Basilan island near Zamboanga, wounding more than 30 and killing a boy.

In February, nearly simultaneous explosions in the financial district of Makati city and two southern cities killed four people and wounded dozens. In February 2004, a bomb-triggered fire on a ferry on Manila Bay killed 116 people.

The police blamed the attacks on the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

He added that "two to four" suicide bombers from the Indonesia-based terror group Jemaah Islamiyah may have already entered the capital. He earlier said Indonesian security authorities informed the Philippines that 10 suicide bombers have slipped into the country.

According to the AP Gonzales said authorities have uncovered a terrorist plan to make and detonate a 1,000-kilogram (2,200-pound) bomb, but security forces earlier this year seized 600 kilograms (1,320-pound) of explosives.

He said the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah, which has trained local terrorists, could still have the "balance" of 400 kilograms (880 pounds) or are procuring more explosives to continue building the giant bomb.

"We cannot disregard (the existence of the explosives) because the noises we are getting through communications is that money is coming in at a regular basis," Gonzales said. "They are aware that they lost 600, but they are saying that materials could be available."

He said he did not want to cause panic.

"It is OK to be scared, but not to panic," he said. "When you are scared, you are more vigilant."

He said citizens should report abandoned baggage or "characters suddenly entering their neighborhood."

"Let us not mix up the issue of terrorism with politics," he said. "It is an internationally launched revolt of a sinister faction in the Islamic world, and they are hitting countries they suspect of having close ties with the No. 1 'infidel' government of the United States."

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