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Manila on highest terror alert in 16 years

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MANILA: The Philippine capital was put on its highest terror alert in 16 years.

This came after police arrested two alleged members of an Islamic terrorist group over a makeshift bomb planted near the US embassy on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said yesterday that security alert had been raised to Level 3.

He said there will be more police raids and that security around public places such as shopping malls will be increased.

The two suspects are said to be from a group backing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the police chief said yesterday.

Three more suspects are being hunted, said Mr Dela Rosa at a news conference where he presented the two suspects: Rashid Kilala and Jiaher Guinar, both of Marawi, a mostly Muslim city in the war-torn southern island group of Mindanao.

All suspects are alleged members of Ansarul al Khilafah Philippines, one of a number of small militant groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIS, reported AFP.

Security forces defused a powerful bomb found inside a rubbish bin near the US embassy early on Monday morning, in what Mr Dela Rosa said was an "attempted act of terrorism".

The attempt was pinned on the Maute group, another extremist faction seeking ISIS recognition. Mr Dela Rosa said Ansarul was working with Maute.

He said: "They were seeking to be recognised by ISIS, that they're good enough to mount attacks, because of the tremendous funding support they were hoping to get."

He said the suspects had originally targeted a park further away from the embassy, but balked over the likely casualty count. The bomb did not explode because of a faulty trigger mechanism.

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