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Philippines Increases Security At Home, Overseas - 2002-10-13

Philippine authorities have stepped up security at government installations at home and abroad, after a series of bomb attacks in neighboring Indonesia, one of which appears to have targeted a Philippine diplomatic mission there.

Philippine officials Sunday ordered heightened security at military camps, government offices and at its foreign missions overseas, after an attack on the Philippine Consulate in the Indonesian city of Manado. No one was injured in that attack, but two other explosions later Saturday night on the neighboring resort island of Bali, were deadly.

Victoriano Lecaros, a spokesman for the Philippine Foreign Affairs department, denounced the attacks. He said Manila has ordered diplomats overseas to take extra precautions. "We denounce this unprovoked attack on our consulate in Manado and in those two other places in Bali that followed, which killed or injured dozens of innocent people," Mr. Lecaros said.

This is the second attack against a Philippine diplomatic mission in Indonesia in recent years. A car bomb exploded outside the embassy in Jakarta two years ago, killing two people and injuring the ambassador.

It is not clear yet whether Saturday's blast has anything to do with the recent Philippine arrests of at least two Indonesians, suspected to be members of the regional extremist group, Jemaah Islamiah.

There has also been a series of bombings in the Philippines in recent weeks. One explosion, outside an army camp in the south, killed an American soldier, who was participating in a joint military exercise there.

The United States and the Philippines have been cooperating closely in the war against terror, which has included months of joint military training in anti-terrorism tactics.

Another training exercise is set to begin Monday, this time with 800 U.S. Marines.

Much of the focus has been on the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim militant group that has carried out a series of violent and high-profile kidnappings in the southern Philippines. Washington has linked the Abu Sayyaf to al-Qaida.

The Philippine military operation against the Abu Sayyaf is still continuing. Pursuit operations were intensified Sunday, after suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels on the southern island of Jolo killed at least 11 soldiers the day before.