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Three more countries join US security alert for Philippines

MANILA -- Britain, Australia and Canada joined the United States on Saturday in warning their citizens of a security threat in the Philippines, particularly in the capital, Manila.

Philippine authorities say they have no information of a specific threat against Westerners but are treating the warnings seriously.

On Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said “reliable security forces” detected a threat specifically in suburban Pasay City where it maintains a residential facility and a Veterans Affairs office.

It urged U.S. citizens to avoid gatherings that may be regarded as “American events.” The threat remains through Oct. 10, it added.

In their separate warnings, the three other governments cited Friday's U.S. “emergency message.”

Australians were advised to “exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines because of the high threat of terrorist attack and the high level of serious crime.”

Britons were told that terrorist attacks “could be indiscriminate” and targets could include places frequented by foreigners such as airports, shopping malls, and churches.

Canadians were warned of “an ongoing terrorist threat to Westerners and Western interests in the Philippines” and bombings that “could occur at any time in Manila and other key cities.”

Metropolitan Manila police chief Leonardo Espina said Saturday that he had ordered beefed up security for embassies with increased patrols by uniformed and plainclothes officers.

Such measures were taken in the wake of attacks that killed the American ambassador in Libya following Muslim protests against an anti-Islam film. Similar protests in the Philippines have been peaceful.

Espina said the U.S. Embassy warning is based on “their own parameters and systems of risk assessment.”

Armed forces spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos said the military has not monitored any “significant threat” against Americans and other Westerners. “Nevertheless, we are taking this seriously,” he added.

The foreign governments reminded its citizens not to travel to certain areas in the southern Philippines where the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group operates.

The group is notorious for kidnappings, beheadings and bombings. It is on the U.S. and European lists of terrorist groups.

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