Security alert lifted in Philippine capital after Catholics end parade without terror attack

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 12 2012 4:25 p.m. MST

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines lifted a terrorist alert in the capital Tuesday after millions of Roman Catholic devotees ended a 22-hour parade of a Christ statue that authorities feared was a tempting target for Muslim extremists.

Authorities had deployed a massive police cordon after the president warned over the weekend that terrorists might target the raucous annual procession. After the parade ended, they declared the event a success and lifted the security alert in Manila.

The government did not have specific intelligence on a terrorist plot. Still, about 15,000 policemen, backed by hundreds of army troops, secured the three-mile (five-kilometer) procession route for the charred wooden Black Nazarene statue from seaside Rizal Park to a popular church in Manila's congested Quiapo district.

Air force helicopters stood by and cellphone service was blocked in procession areas to prevent its use to trigger bombs. Despite the president's warning, huge crowds of devotees wearing maroon shirts surged near the statue, believed to have healing powers.

Devotees waving handkerchiefs and towels let out shouts of "Viva!" as the statue was finally brought inside the church at the end of the grueling procession.

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