Sun, Sep 30, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Western nations issue security alerts for Manila


More Western nations called on their citizens to be cautious in the Philippine capital yesterday following a US embassy warning a day earlier of an unspecified threat against Americans.

The warnings issued by the British, Canadian and Australian governments called on their citizens to be cautious amid fears they could get caught up in an attempted attack against Americans.

“Any attack could be indiscriminate, and we advise British nationals to exercise particular caution and extra vigilance in places frequented by expatriates and foreign nationals,” the British foreign office alert said.

The Canadian foreign affairs office said “continuing reports suggest that there is an ongoing terrorist threat to Westerners and Western interests in the Philippines.”

On Friday, the US embassy warned that a threat against Americans in the capital had been detected by “reliable security forces.”

“This threat remains in effect until Oct. 10, 2012,” the advisory said.

The US embassy would not elaborate on the danger.

Asked about the advisories, Philippine military spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Burgos said “as far as the armed forces are concerned, we have not monitored any specific threat.”

However, he said the military would continue to work with the police and other agencies to boost security.

The country’s national police force was not available for comment.

The US government issued an alert in November 2010 that warned of an attack in Manila, particularly areas frequented by foreigners, which also prompted similar travel advisories from Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and France.

The attack never materialized and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III subsequently criticized the US and other Western allies for damaging his country’s tourism prospects.

The US has a general warning about the risks of travel in the Philippines, a former US colony that has for decades battled Islamic separatist rebels and more hardline Muslim militants in the far south of the country.

The Abu Sayyaf, a small band of Muslim militants that authorities say was set up in the early 1990s with funds from the al-Qaeda network, has kidnapped and killed Americans in the southern Min- danao region in recent years.

About 600 US troops have been rotating through the southern Philippines for a decade to help train local troops in hunting the Abu Sayyaf. However, the Americans are barred from taking part in combat.

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