From the Manila Standard Today (Aug 21): Police confirm planned terror attack: Zambo siege 2 looming
Eleven months after the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) September 2013 bloody siege here, the police confirmed another attack is looming even as half of about 120,000 evacuated residents have yet to return to their homes.
Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, police chief, said “these threats include possible bombings of gasoline stations, restaurants and other highly vulnerable areas as well as kidnappings of some prominent residents and businessmen” but asasured the city that security measures have been placed.
He said Abbu Sayaf member Abbo Jomar was arrested in Barangay Upper Calarian with components of Improvised Explosive Device about to be assembled.
Jomar’s group is allegedly networked with cells operating in Sulu and Basilan with members deployed in several towns in North Cotabato.
Casimiro said another siege is meant to derail the on-going peace process that the government is undertaking with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“There are some sectors that are not satisfied with the ways this process is being done while others disagree with the government’s effort of reaching for peace in the entire Mindanao, the country’s second largest island region,” he said.
Meanwhile, he debunked the flurry of text messages since Monday about an alleged massing up of armed men in coastal villages of the city’s eastern area as part of the second MNLF assault on the City of Flowers.
“I call on all residents not to fall prey on this kind of messages because your police and military men of Task Force Zamboanga (TFZ) are always on the guard,” Casimiro said.
He said Septemebr 9 has been designated “Memorial Day” to honor members of the City Police Office who died to defend the city three week siege that also claimed the lives of military officers from Camp Aguinaldo and some 150 MNLF insurgents who invaded and burned the semi-urban villages of Santa Catalina, Rio Hondo, Talon-Talon, Kasanyangan and Santa Barbara.
Casimiro said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been asked to designate a one-hectare lot as site for a memorial for the fallen heroes to honor their bravery and gallantry in championing peace in Mindanao.
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Philippines, Luiza Carvalho, said many evacuees are still away from their homes.
“Almost 17,000 people are still living in extremely difficult conditions in overcrowded evacuation centers with inadequate sanitation at the Cawa-Cawa shoreline and in and around Zamboanga’s nearby sports complex,” ahe said.
“These people remain most vulnerable to disease and exploitation, while other families now living in temporary housing in transition sites or being hosted by relatives or friends also require humanitarian support.”
Mored than 10,000 homes destroyed or damaged in the Sept. 9 siege and the government did not expect to complete the return or permanent relocation of the pdisplaced families until mid-2015.