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LRT security up on Rizal Day bombing 6th anniv

On the eve of the sixth anniversary of the deadly Rizal Day bombing, police in Manila tightened Friday security on the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1 line, which was one of the five places attacked by terrorists on Dec. 30, 2000. At Camp Aguinaldo, Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said security forces would be vigilant against possible attacks that might be carried out by terrorists to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the Rizal Day bombings. Acting Manila Police District (MPD) chief Senior Supt. Danilo Abarzosa said he ordered his personnel to closely watch the portion of the LRT running through Manila. "I instructed my men to be extra strict in frisking and inspecting passengers riding the LRT particularly at the stations along Taft Avenue," he told DZEC radio. He said personnel from the Explosive and Ordnance Division (EOD) and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units are stationed at LRT stops. Abarzosa also apologized to passengers for the delay in taking their trips, saying it was for the sake of security. "We are assuring you that intelligence troops and other troops are doing something and we are doing our best so that such bombings would not be repeated," said Esperon. The Dec. 30, 2000 attacks were launched by the Southeast Asian regional terrorist network Jema’ah Islamiyah in tandem with the local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf and the radical group of Muslim converts Rajah Solaiman Movement. About 22 people were killed and hundred others injured in the bombings that occurred within a span of a few hours. The first bomb exploded at Plaza Ferguson, a stone’s throw away from the United States Embassy in Manila. The second bomb attack took place inside a coach of the LRT Blumentritt station in Manila, where more than 10 people were killed. The third bomb exploded at a gasoline station in Makati’s central business district, where a policeman was killed. The fourth bomb was detonated near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City and the fifth bomb exploded on bus cruising Edsa-Cubao, Quezon City. Authorities said the bombing was meant to embarrass the Philippine government before the international community. The bombings were led by self-confessed JI bomber Fathur Roman Al Ghozi. Months after his arrest, he bolted out of a Camp Crame jail but was later shot and killed by government forces in North Cotabato in 2003. Esperon said the military would be on low terror alert, but assured soldiers would be vigilant. He said the measures undertaken to ensure a peaceful Rizal Day are adopted in coordination with the Philippine National Police. "As of now, we are on a low terror alert, meaning the lowest. Nevertheless that should be no reason to be complacent about the terrorist plans so we will be in an alert status, the AFP chief said. On whether the military establishment is monitoring specific terrorist plans to observe the anniversary of the Rizal Day bombings, Esperon said: "Lets not talk about that at the moment, that’s very operational." -GMANews.TV