Manila - Police in the Philippine capital have gone on red alert by intensifying mobile and SWAT patrols in embassies, malls, railways and other public places. Members of the Special Action Forces and bomb disposal squads were also dispatched to boost security at the United States, Swiss and Singapore embassies, which had received bomb threats.
The US embassy suspended operations on Dec 6 after a guard received an SMS message threatening to blow up the bayside complex. Although often mentioned as a potential terrorist target, the embassy had rarely closed in the past.
The embassies of Switzerland and Singapore also reported bomb threats on the same day. Embassy staff told police that they had received a call from a certain Abdullah, who warned them that a car bomb would explode in front of their offices. The Israeli Embassy also requested extra security measures, although it had received no threats.
"The information we received is that the Jemaah Islamiah and the Abu Sayyaf plan to bomb these embassies," said police spokesman Agrimero Cruz.
While the police did not offer any details, Malik Alimuddin, a detained member of the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), warned last month that his group and the Abu Sayyaf were planning bomb attacks in different parts of the country in retaliation for the arrest of a JI militant and two Abu Sayyaf extremists earlier this year. The RSM is a radical Muslim convert group.
Alimuddin said the Makati financial district in the Philippine capital was among the terrorists' target.
Manila Metro police chief Vidal Querol said the red alert will remain in force "until the development warrants it".
* More embassies get bomb threats (The Manila Times, Dec 8)
* Security tightened at S'pore embassy (The Straits Times, Dec 8)