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Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 03:48 GMT
Terror threat shuts Australia mission
Sydney Opera house
Guards patrol the Sydney Opera House

Australia has temporarily closed its embassy in the Philippines after receiving information about a possible attack from Islamic fundamentalists within the next few days.

Australians have been warned to avoid non-essential travel to the Philippines.

Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, took the decision to temporarily close the embassy in the Philippines capital, Manila, after receiving a report that he said was credible and a very specific warning of an attack within the next few days.

Fireball after bomb blast
Many Australians died in the Bali bombing
He said the threat was directed at the embassy, which occupies five floors of a city office block, and is believed to come from Islamic fundamentalists.

The only sensible and safe thing to do, he said, was to close the embassy down.

Staff will remain in the Philippines but will work out of an office or hotel elsewhere in the city until the threat has passed.

Meanwhile, the foreign affairs department says Australians should avoid non-essential travel to the Philippines and those already there should exercise extreme caution, particularly in public places.

This alert follows a heightened security awareness in Australia, where the government issued a warning last week about a potential threat over the next few months.

Private security guards now patrol the Sydney Opera House, harbour bridge and other significant sites.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's John McLean
"This threat comes from what he describes as Islamic fundamentalists"

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14 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
13 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
12 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
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