IED found near U.S. Embassy in Manila

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Authorities responded quickly to a report Monday morning about an alleged bomb found in a trash can outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — It was a tense morning in Manila after a bomb was allegedly found near the U.S. Embassy on Monday.

Philippine National Police (PNP) officials in the National Capital Region confirmed that at around 6 a.m., a street sweeper found a suspicious-looking object, a gin bottle wrapped in black plastic. A cellphone and cables were attached to the object, they said.

The find was immediately reported to the police who quickly responded, said PNP-NCR Police Office acting regional director Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde.

The improvised explosive device was located inside a trash can around 25 meters from the embassy's gate, he added.

PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa described it as "an attempted act of terrorism."

 

The southbound lanes of Roxas Boulevard and T.M. Kalaw St. Next to the U.S. Embassy were closed off until 8:43 a.m., causing heavy traffic in the area.

The U.S. Embassy confirmed the "discovery of a device."

"This morning a municipal employee reported the discovery of a device to U.S. Embassy guards, who immediately contacted the police," said Molly Koscina, press attaché and First Secretary of the U.S. Embassy,

"We are thankful that the municipal employee and the Philippine National Police took quick and appropriate action to ensure the safety of all," Koscina added.

Members of the PNP bomb disposal unit detonated the bomb before noon.

Authorities are now investigating who left the improvised explosive device.

Similar to Davao blast device

Dela Rosa said the IED has a similar design to the one that killed at least 14 people in Davao City in September.

Read: Davao City blast caused by cellphone-triggered IED

The blast was plotted by the ISIS-linked Maute group. Last month, police arrested seven of the suspects.

The PNP Chief said the IED found near the U.S. Embassy could be a diversion tactic by the Maute group, which is facing an intense military offensive after it laid siege to a Lanao Del Sur town last week.

So far, 19 of the militants have been killed by government troops.

Dela Rosa said the Maute group could have planted the bomb so authorities would divert their attention from Mindanao.

'Not setting up marital law scenario'

A frustrated Dela Rosa also dispelled rumors that the bomb threat would give the government reason to declare martial law.

"For God's sake! We will not use - the government will not use an incident that will cause panic, fear, and undue harm, or even death to its own people to declare martial law," he told reporters.

"Hindi namin magawa yan. What if anak namin matamaan niyan...Isipin ninyo, may diyos na nakatingin sa'ting lahat kaya 'wag niyong isipin na government ang may pakana nito," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: We can't do that. What if the bomb hits our children...Just think, there's a god watching us so please don;t believe this is the government's doing.]

President Duterte considered suspending the writ of habeas corpus — a move that allows warantless arrests — in Davao City following the deadly incident.

Instead of declaring martial law, Duterte put the country under a state of emergency, on account of lawless violence.

Related: Duterte: Martial law a 'contingency' against widespread violence