MANILA: A suspected terrorist killed by Philippine police snipers after he threatened to detonate a powerful bomb may have been targeting a church or foreign aid workers helping typhoon-devastated provinces, a senior police official said Monday.
SWAT snipers killed Mohd Noor Fikrie late Friday while 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 last week.
Their efforts to capture him peacefully failed when he evaded police, held up a cellphone and threatened to use it to set off a bomb.
“I was just waiting for the blast,” said police Senior Supt Ronald de la Rosa. “I thought I would never see my family again.”
Intelligence officials had received information that Muslim extremists were planning to bomb foreigners in Davao, said de la Rosa, who heads the police force in Davao, a bustling city about 980km south of Manila.
Fikrie’s wife, who was arrested, told investigators she and Fikrie had wanted to bomb a passenger bus for extortion, but de la Rosa said there were signs that the two had really wanted to target foreign aid workers.
Aid workers are using Davao as a hub to provide assistance to nearby provinces recently devastated by Typhoon Bopha, which left more than 1,000 people dead.
The target may also have been a Roman Catholic church, de la Rosa said, adding that two of five major bomb attacks staged in Davao city by Muslim militants in the past have targeted churches. Fikrie was discovered shortly before the start of popular pre-Christmas dawn Masses that pack churches nationwide with huge devotees, he said.
Police say Fikrie, 26, was a Middle East-trained bomb-making expert and close associate of fellow Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, who uses the nom de guerre Marwan and is one of Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terror suspects….