DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – A Malaysian suspected to be a member of Jemaah Islamiyah was shot dead by local police forces after he was allegedly attempting to plant and detonate an improvised explosive device in the city on Friday evening, December 14.
Senior Supt Ronald dela Rosa, chief of the Davao City police office, said the Malaysian was identified as Mohd Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar. Dela Rosa said an intelligence report from “very reliable sources” said that Kahar, along with his Filipina wife, Anabelle Nieva Lee, checked in at Room 204 of Sampaguita Hotel along Quirino Street.
At around 10:30 in the evening, the suspects went out of their room to check out, dela Rosa said. Lee, who was carrying a black backpack containing the IED, was immediately accosted by dela Rosa, while Kahar was accosted by personnel form the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
“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 the hotel during a 3-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.
But Kahar was able to raise his mobile phone, which was the triggering device, and threatened to detonate the bomb, dela Rosa said. He said it 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 police official said. The suspects were embracing each other and Kahar’s right hand was still raising the mobile phone.
“Take down orders were given to SWAT snipers but they could not be implemented since the area was overcrowded with pedestrians and motorists,” dela Rosa said. He added that Kahar grabbed the backpack from his wife and ran towards the nearby People’s Park until he was cornered and fatally shot.
The IED, which was fashioned from a 60mm mortar, was immediately diffused.
Lee, who is a “balik Islam” and a native of Sorsogon, is presently detained in the city for further investigation. Dela Rosa said police authorities are still conducting investigations to know if there exist terror cells in the city.
They are also trying to establish if Lee was involved with the JI, an Islamic militant group blamed for attacks in Southeast Asia, including the 2002 Bali bombing in Indonesia that claimed 202 lives.
“But probably the suspects were from outside Davao City and were just sent here to plant the bomb,” dela Rosa speculated. – Rappler.com/With a report from Agence France-Presse