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Philippine Authorities Arrest 2 Men with Homemade Explosive Device in Manila - 2004-05-02

Philippine authorities say they have thwarted a new terrorist bomb plot after arresting two men in the capital. Authorities say they expect to make more arrests.

The two Filipino Muslim men were arrested late Saturday near the Commission on Elections Office, across from the Manila's historic Roman Catholic cathedral.

Authorities confiscated a 60 millimeter mortar round rigged as a bomb from the two men. Police say the bomb, which could be set off by cellular phone, was ready for detonation.

The spokesman for the government's anti-terrorism task force, Blanca Flor, says more arrests are expected soon.

"Definitely it is not the end, but as of now, we can not divulge what we have in the works... it only takes one stroke of luck for the terrorists to succeed, where as the task force has to be successful all the time," said Mr. Flor.

Mr. Flor says says information from terrorist suspects arrested a few weeks ago helped foil the latest plot.

The military appealed for the people to remain calm and alert ahead of the May 10 national elections. There are fears of possible terror attacks to disrupt the elections.

President Gloria Arroyo's staff says security concerns forced her to cancel campaign trips in the coming week to the Philippines' troubled southern islands. Her staff did not specify what the concerns were.

The Philippines is predominately a Christian country, but a sizable Muslim minority lives in the south, where several separatist groups have fought the Manila government during the past three decades.

In March, the authorities arrested several alleged Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels. The police say they were planning to attack public facilities, commuter trains, and shopping malls.

The separatist group, which is responsible for a series of kidnappings of local and foreign tourists, has been linked to al Qaida terrorist network.

On the 10, the country votes on a new president, vice president, half the Senate, the entire House of Representatives, and more than 17,000 local officials.