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Security tight as 1.4 million Filipino Catholics join annual procession

January 09, 2017

As estimated 1.4 million people participated in an annual procession in Manila, under heavy security because of fears of a terrorist attack.

The procession of the Black Nazarene—a wooden figure of Christ carrying the Cross- was paraded through Manila, drawing tens of thousands of people who jostled each other as they sought to touch the statue. The image of the Black Nazarene, reportedly brought to the Philippines by Spanish missionaries in the 17th century, is believed to have miraculous powers. Each year the Black Nazarene is carried in procession on January 9 and again on Good Friday.

Last year’s procession had been held under tight security, with 5,000 police and military guards. This year, drones were added and snipers were positioned on rooftops along the parade route; all cell-phone communications were blocked in the area. Police had warned of possible retaliation after Mohammade Jaafar Maguid, the lead of a jihadist group, was killed by police last week.

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