x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Philippines aid workers may have been bombing target

A suspected terrorist killed by Philippine police snipers after he threatened to detonate a bomb may have been targeting a church or foreign aid workers helping typhoon-hit areas of the country.

MANILA // A suspected terrorist killed by Philippine police snipers after he threatened to detonate a bomb may have been targeting a church or foreign aid workers helping typhoon-hit areas of the country, police said yesterday.

Snipers killed Mohammad Noor Fikrie on Friday as he threatened to set off a bomb in his backpack outside a crowded park in southern Davao city.

After months of surveillance, military and police intelligence officers had tracked the Malaysian to a budget hotel in the city. Their efforts to capture him peacefully failed when he evaded police and, when confronted, held up a mobile phone and threatened to use it to set off a bomb.

"I was just waiting for the blast," said Ronald de la Rosa, a senior police superintendent in Davao. "I thought I would never see my family again."

Fikrie's wife, who was arrested, told investigators she and Fikrie had wanted to bomb a passenger bus for extortion, but Mr de la Rosa said there were signs that foreign aid workers were the real target. Aid workers are using Davao as a hub to provide assistance to nearby provinces recently devastated by Typhoon Bopha, that killed more than 1,000 people.

The target may also have been a Roman Catholic church, Mr de la Rosa said, adding that two of five major bomb attacks in Davao city by Muslim militants in the past had targeted churches. Fikrie was identified shortly before the start of popular pre-Christmas dawn masses that pack churches nationwide with devotees, he said.