• Philippine security beefed up amid terror threat

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    The Philippine government has stepped up its security following a new worldwide alert issued by the US over possible attacks by the al Qaeda terror network.
    In a radio interview, Presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte assured the public that the government, through the National Security Council, has intensified intelligence gathering and hardening efforts against terrorism.
    “We take into consideration the alert that has been issued, and then, according to the National Security Adviser, we are intensifying our intelligence gathering to address the issues that are raised in the alert,” she said.
    The United States issued an extraordinary global travel warning to Americans Friday about the threat of an al-Qaeda attack and closed down 21 embassies and consulates across the Muslim world for the weekend.
    According to Valte, the warnings was directed at US embassies, stressing that security measures will be in place.
    She refused to give details on the security measures “because that is like telling those people who wanted to harm that ‘these are the things that you should go against.”

    The Palace refused to say if there was a link between the US warning and the bombing  that killed at least eight people in Limketkai mall complex in Cagayan de Oro City last July 26.
    All Valte said was that the US alert indicates the threat is “directed at western targets.”
    “I would not comment on that, considering that the investigation is
    still ongoing,” she said.  “And if these people read the actual
    Interpol alert, it speaks of identified areas like the Arabian Peninsula.”
    On August 2, the US State Department issued a travel alert warning
    about the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in
    the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or
    emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.
    It said its current information suggests that Al Qaeda and affiliated
    organizations “continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region
    and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the
    period between now and the end of August.”
    “Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target
    both official and private interests. US citizens are reminded of the
    potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and
    other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked
    subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services.
    US citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their
    surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect
    themselves when traveling,” it added.

    CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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