Britain warned yesterday that terrorists may be in the final stages of plotting more attacks after a series of bombings in the southern Philippines, and advised its citizens against traveling to the sprawling region.
Philippine police have blamed al-Qaeda-linked militants from the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah and the local Abu Sayyaf groups for three bombings in the south last week, including an Oct. 10 attack that killed six people and wounded 29 others during a town fiesta in North Cotabato Province.
The US, British and Australian embassies had cautioned against travel to Mindanao shortly before the attacks, citing credible information that terrorists could strike.
Renewing their warning, British officials said more terror attacks could be looming.
"We believe that terrorists are in the final stages of planning further attacks," a British Embassy advisory said.
It cited possible kidnappings of foreigners in resorts and terrorist attacks against "all forms of public transport: road, rail, sea and air."
Police in the capital went on alert yesterday. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo urged the public to report suspicious people and activities.
"The authorities are on top of the situation, but they need the active support of the community to safeguard the perimeters of peace and order," she said in a statement.
"The strong cooperation between vigilant public and our security forces will deny the terrorists any room to carry out sinister plots," Arroyo said.
Government authorities believe that Muslim militants staged last week's bombings to distract attention from a months long US-backed military offensive against Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf rebels on southern Jolo Island, and to avenge the recent capture of the wife of Dulmatin, a top Indonesian terror suspect believed to be hiding there.
Authorities have placed Mindanao under "extreme critical alert" -- the highest of a four-step public terror warning.
Also yesterday, they seized about 200kg of ammonium nitrate fertilizer transported from Jolo to southern Zamboanga City, fearing the material could be used as explosives, officials said.
Three men were questioned in connection with the shipment, which was declared as fish cargo, a port official said.