France joins terrorism alerts
Manila - France joined the US and four other countries on Friday in warning about possible terrorist attacks in the Philippines, even as the country's president expressed dismay with what he said were unduly alarmist reports.
The French Foreign Ministry said in its travel advisory that a risk of terrorist attack existed in the entire Philippines and particularly in urban areas near airports, shopping centres, places of worship, hotels and places frequented by foreigners.
The US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand issued similar alerts earlier that expanded previous travel warnings for the volatile southern Philippines, where Muslim rebels and al-Qaeda militants are active, to include the capital, Manila.
Australia, citing unspecified but reliable reports, said an attack in Manila may be imminent.
Philippine defence secretary Voltaire Gazmin has said that the military and police have not uncovered any specific threat. However, government forces in Manila have been put on the highest state of readiness.
Security has been stepped up at malls and airports, where police increased their visibility with bomb-sniffing dogs and baggage inspections.