07/26/2005

Philippine national security adviser says 10 would-be suicide bombers sought

By OLIVER TEVES
Associated Press Writer

MANILA, Philippines- Philippine security forces are hunting 10 would-be suicide bombers and have foiled a plot for a major attack, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's national security adviser said Tuesday.

Norberto Gonzales said he was worried about possible attacks in Manila following the terror bombings in London and Egypt.

"From intelligence information we have gathered from our neighbors, we know that there are suicide bombers now in the Philippines, at least 10 of them, preparing for a terrorist attack," he told ANC television as he pushed for passage of an anti-terrorism law.

He said one intelligence unit has been "solely dedicated to pursuing the terrorists." He did not identify the alleged terrorists or name any groups.

Gonzales also said Philippine security forces foiled a "huge plot" to bomb unspecified targets by seizing 1,320 pounds of explosives this year.

Police said earlier that bombings planned by the al-Qaida-linked Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group were pre-empted with the arrest of a suspected militant whose information led to a cache of explosives. The military said the explosives were intended for terror attacks in Manila during the Easter holidays.

Terror bombings have hit the capital and other parts of the country in recent years. On Valentine's Day, three almost simultaneous attacks in Manila and the southern Philippines killed four people and wounded 63.

Several anti-terrorism bills are pending in Congress. Some would set up a controversial national ID system or allow electronic surveillance and arrests without warrants.

"We are writing a law intended for terrorists, it's not intended for citizens," Gonzales said. "We are dealing with a very, very specialized group, a very small minority imbedded in the societies of the world. ... They seem to want to achieve their purpose by murdering as many civilians, as many innocents as possible."

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