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Australia, Canada Embassies in Manila Closed After Threats

November 29, 2002|From Associated Press

MANILA — Australia and Canada closed their embassies here Thursday after receiving what they called credible terrorist threats, prompting Philippine authorities to tighten security in the capital.

Police closed streets, set up barricades and circled the Australian Embassy after it was shut when Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Canberra had received a "very specific" intelligence report Wednesday night warning of threats by Islamic militants. There was no sign of increased police presence outside the Canadian mission.

The Philippines has been contending for years with Muslim guerrillas in the south, and there have been sporadic bombing attacks there and in Manila.

Top Philippine officials met Thursday night with the Australian and Canadian ambassadors and said they would like to see the embassies reopened quickly. The session was also attended by a representative of the European Union, which shut its office in the same building as the Australian Embassy, and several other diplomats.

"This closure, unless soon rectified, will be causing a black eye to the Philippines in the international community and will affect the worldwide attitude to the Philippines as a tourist and investment destination," Philippine Foreign Secretary Blas Ople told reporters.

Australia's embassy will be closed at least through Monday, a spokesman said. Canada's was closed indefinitely.

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