Soldiers installing bombs in Makati shopping center.

ABOUT 20 to 30 soldiers wearing red armbands and in full battle gear were installing what appeared to be bombs at the Ayala Center shopping mall in the Makati business district, GMA Network radio and television reported.

The report quoted mall guards as saying they were disarmed by the soldiers who were also reported to be diverting traffic from the area near which lies between the Intercontinental Hotel and the Oakwood building which houses serviced apartments.

The soldiers refused to identify themselves or their commander to the dzBB reporter on the scene.

Photographers and cameramen were also warned not to take footage or use flash photography. "Pasensyahan na (tought luck)" should the bombs explode, one soldier told DZBB

Makati police confirmed to Agence France-Presse that the unauthorized presence of the military men in the shopping mall but would not give further details.

The guards managed to close down the steel shutters of one department store facing areas where they set up explosives.

One of the men, identified as Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade Antonio Trillanes IV -- one of the rogue soldiers -- was heard yelling "we mean no harm, we mean no harm," as his men set up the explosives, Agence France-Presse reported."This government is pushing us to do this," he yelled.

Another soldier, who was setting up a booby trap, warned reporters to stay away.

There was no sign that a nearby condominium and a hotel in the shopping mall were being evacuated.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Saturday said their had been a military plot to overthrow her government and ordered a hunt for up to 70 officers and men involved in the revolt.

Authorities have issued orders to arrest about 20 junior officers, many of them said to have led elite units and to be experts on explosives.

The officers, graduates of the elite Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and aged up to 32, were backed by "between 40-50" fully armed men.

Trillanes was among 10 of the officers who were identified as being part of the plot.

Military and police personnel had earlier secured key installations, including the Congress building, military camps and television stations. 

Originally posted 3:28 AM


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