Philippines police shoot Malaysian terror suspect
A man with alleged ties to Islamic militants was shot dead in the Philippines after he threatened to set off a backpack bomb in a stand-off with local police, an official said on Saturday.
A suspect identified by police as Mohammad Noor Fikrie of Malaysia was killed in the southern city of Davao late on Friday after he threatened to blow up an explosive device in a rucksack, city police chief Ronald de la Rosa said.
“‘If you arrest or shoot me I have a bomb. I will explode it,’” de la Rosa quoted the suspect as telling police at the lobby of a hotel during a three-and-a-half-hour stand-off.
The authorities had raided the hotel after a tip-off that one of its guests was planning a “terror” attack in the city of 1.4 million people, de la Rosa told reporters, without elaborating on the source of the information.
He said the Malaysian was a suspected member of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamic militant group blamed for attacks in Southeast Asia including the Bali bombing in Indonesia in 2002 that claimed 202 lives.
While in the hotel lobby the suspect brandished a mobile phone, which, he said was the trigger for the explosives contained in the backpack that was being carried by his Filipina wife, de la Rosa said.
The warning triggered a stampede by guests and hotel staff for the exits and the suspect and his wife took advantage of the ensuing chaos to flee the building and run to a nearby park, the official said.
The couple weaved among park visitors in a bid to shake off the authorities, but when they reached a deserted area police snipers opened fire, killing the man, de la Rosa said.
He said police arrested the woman, Anabelle Nieva Lee, and disarmed an “improvised explosive device” that included a mortar shell retrieved from the backpack.
Authorities are investigating the woman’s possible involvement with Jemaah Islamiyah, de la Rosa said, adding police believe she had converted to Islam when she married the Malaysian.
Philippine authorities said a small number of Jemaah Islamiyah militants have taken refuge with Filipino Muslim militants operating on the southern island of Mindanao.