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Asia-Pacific
Philippines on high terrorism alert
Government boosts security after Western nations warn attacks may be imminent in capital and elsewhere in the country.
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2010 17:31 GMT
The United States, Britain and Australia have warned of a heightened risk of terrorist attacks in the Philippines [AFP]

The Philippines is on heightened alert for possible terrorist attacks after Western governments suggested public places could be targeted.

The United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand warned their citizens that areas often visited by foreigners in the capital Manila, and elsewhere in the country, were potential targets.

The Philippine government did not see an immediate threat but the advisories were being taken seriously, Voltaire Gazmin, the Philippine defence minister, said on Wednesday.

The warnings did not identify the source of the threat.

Conflicting intelligence

The five governments specifically mentioned Manila as a possible target in their latest travel advisories - and warned their citizens to stay away from shopping centres and places frequented by expatriates.

"There is no imminent threat, there is no information which says there is an impending attack"

Brigadier General Jose Mabanta,
Philippines military spokesman

They also advised citizens to exercise a high degree of caution.

Australia, citing unspecified but reliable reports, said an attack in the capital may be "imminent''. 

"Terrorist attacks, including bombings, are possible any time, anywhere in the Philippines, including in Manila," the Australian department of foreign affairs said in its notice.

The British and US authorities said terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate and could happen in Manila.

But the Philippine military said it did not have any similar information.

"There is no imminent threat, there is no information which says there is an impending attack. And we certainly would like to allay fears of all of these possibilities," Brigadier General Jose Mabanta, a military spokesman, said.

Edwin Lacierda, the Philippine presidential spokesman, said the warnings were part of heightened concerns around the world following the discovery last week of parcel bombs from Yemen that were being sent to the US.

"The travel advisories ... are part of a global alert about possible terrorist activities, not just in the Philippines but also in other parts of the world," Lacierda said.

Lacierda did mention any specific threat but said the military and the national police forces in Manila had been placed on the top-level "red alert".

Recommendations were maintained to avoid travel to Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago in the southern Philippines because of risks from Muslim rebels and al-Qaeda fighters in the area.

Source:
Agencies
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