MANILA, November 3, 2010 (AFP) – Western governments warned on Wednesday that attacks may be imminent in the Philippine capital and other parts of the country, prompting the government to increase security in Manila.

The United States, Britain, Canada and Australia warned their citizens that public areas often visited by foreigners, such as shopping centers and airports, were potential targets for the attacks.

“Reliable reports indicate that terrorist attacks may be imminent in Manila, including places frequented by foreigners,” the Australian government advisory said.

Western nations have been on high alert over possible terrorist attacks around the world following the discovery of parcel bombs from Yemen that were being sent to Chicago.
Philippine presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the warnings for the Philippines were part of the heightened global concerns.

“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 told reporters.

“We are working with our allies to validate the intelligence information and co-ordinate possible responies should the need arise.

“As a precaution, the armed forces and the Philippine national police have been put on heightened alert in the national capital.”

Lacierda said the military had been placed on top-level red alert for Manila, which meant troops had to remain in their barracks so they were ready to respond quickly to any potential attack.

He clarified that the police had already been on red alert for Manila.

The Philippines, which has been battling Muslim and communist insurgencies for decades, frequently endures attacks such as bombings of public places and kidnappings of foreigners.

However most of those attacks have occurred in the southern region of Mindanao, more than 700 kilometres (440 milies) from Manila.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group operates in the far south of Mindanao.