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Canada, Australia Close Embassies in Philippines - 2002-11-28


Canada and Australia on Thursday close their Philippine embassies as intelligence reports offer revelations of planned terror attacks. Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the intelligence reports warning of terror attacks by Muslim extremists on his country's embassy in Manila could not have been more explicit. "On reading the report, it is a very specific report," he says. "It's not only location specific that is targeting the Australian Embassy itself, it is also time specific we're talking here of over the next few days."

The American Embassy in Manila was closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving holiday but is set to reopen Friday; both the Canadian and Australian embassies will remain shut with staff providing consular services from a nearby hotel.

The report was in part based on information gathered by Philippine officials.

A number of terrorist groups operate in the Philippines, including the Abu Sayyaf, which Washington links to al-Qaida. Philippine officials say local Muslim militants have trained with members of the Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaida terror networks.

Last week the Australian government issued its most serious warning yet of possible terrorist attacks on Australian soil, hinting that al-Qaida operatives were actively planning attacks. Twenty-four-hour security is in place at major national landmarks, including Sydney's Opera House and Harbor Bridge. Mr. Downer says the move is part of last week's alert.

Last month, at least ninety Australians and a hundred others were killed in a terrorist attack at a popular tourist spot on the Indonesian island of Bali.