Australia has warned there could be terrorist attacks in the Philippines over Christmas, although the Asian nation's police chief said on Sunday that security officials had not uncovered a specific threat.
The Australian Embassy posted a travel advisory on its Web site on Saturday warning Australians to steer clear of places frequented by foreigners, and strongly advised against travel in the southern region of Mindanao, where Al-Qaeda-linked militants are active.
"Credible information indicates terrorists may be in the advanced stages of planning attacks. Attacks may be imminent and could occur at any time, anywhere in Mindanao," it said.
"Attacks could occur in the lead up to and following the Christmas celebrations," it added, without elaborating or identifying the source of its information.
Philippine national police chief Director General Avelino Razon said security officials were verifying Australia's warning but have so far detected no specific terror threat anywhere in the country.
The 125,000-strong police force has been placed on "heightened alert" to prevent any attacks and secure crowded public areas, Razon said.
Government forces have been battling a variety of threats led by Marxist guerrillas and at least four Muslim militant groups, including the small but brutal Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, which is blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organisation.