Terror alert out for Philippines
SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Australian and American citizens have been warned to postpone all but essential travel to the Philippines because of fears of terrorist attacks.
The high alert travel warning was issued by authorities in the United States and Australia after they said they had received information that terrorist attacks were being planned in the Philippines.
Authorities said that citizens should defer all non-essential travel to Mindanao in the south, and defer all travel to the Zamboanga peninsula and the Sulu archipelago.
The alerts in particular warn citizens to stay away from areas known to be frequented by foreigners, including coastal resorts.
"We continue to receive reports that terrorists in the region are planning attacks. Recent reports suggest that terrorists may be in the final stages of planning an attack," the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement late on Thursday.
"Attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in the Philippines. Australians planning travel to the Philippines should consider this information carefully in deciding whether to travel at this time," it said.
Warning Americans to be "vigilant" over personal security, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday: "Terrorist groups, including Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group, and radical elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, are planning multiple attacks throughout the Philippines."
The department noted an increase in terrorist bombings in the capital, Manila, and in the Mindanao region in the south.
Last month, three bombs exploded in Manila and two other cities, killing eight people and wounding more than 100 others.
The Abu Sayyaf group claimed responsibility for the blasts, saying they were in response to a major military push against Islamic militants in the southern Philippines, where 60 people have been killed in recent clashes.
On March 16, an Indonesian terror suspect linked to the blasts was arrested in the southern Philippines, according to the Philippines military. The man allegedly was a member of Jemaah Islamiyah.
There is also an expectation of revenge attacks by the Abu Sayyaf after 23 jail inmates died in a failed jailbreak in Manila earlier this month. Among the dead were several prominent guerrilla commanders. (Full story)