More than a million Filipino Roman Catholic devotees jammed Manila’s streets Saturday for an annual procession of a centuries-old statue of Christ that was held under extra heavy security following the Paris attacks.
About 5,000 police and soldiers were deployed to secure the daylong procession of the Black Nazarene in one of Asia’s largest religious festivals, although no specific threat was being monitored. The huge crowd reached more than a million by noon, Manila police Chief Superintendent Rolando Nana said. The raucous gathering is a security nightmare for the Philippines, a poor Southeast Asian country battling widespread crime nationwide and Muslim extremists in the south.
Police sharpshooters, bomb-sniffing dogs and SWAT teams stood by and surveillance drones were flown over the slow-moving procession. Security forces randomly checked bags for weapons, firecrackers and pointed objects, including umbrellas, which were banned. Coast guard and navy personnel patrolled a major river where the procession crossed over. (AP)