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Philippines on full alert ahead of APEC summit and after Paris attacks

Philippine Marines check an anti-aircraft weapon mounted near the venues of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which will be held next week, during a security preparation in Manila November 14, 2015.  REUTERS/Erik De Castro
Philippine Marines check an anti-aircraft weapon mounted near the venues of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which will be held next week, during a security preparation in Manila November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine police went on full alert nationwide on Saturday, ahead of next week’s summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Manila and following deadly attacks in Paris, beefing up security to ensure the safety of thousands of summit delegates.

All security personnel across the country’s 7,100 islands are on alert, with close to 20 leaders due to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, and after at least 120 people were killed in the attacks across Paris.

“We are on full alert status nationwide because of APEC, and as part of routine procedure after incidents such as the one in Paris,” Philippine national police spokesman Wilben Mayor told Reuters.

The wealthy neighbouring city state of Singapore also raised its alert level, stepping up border checks and other security measures in the wake of the Paris attacks, in which gunmen and bombers targeted restaurants, a concert hall and a sports stadium. (http://bit.ly/1HOScVm)

On Saturday, Philippine air force helicopters and coast guard boats patrolled around APEC meeting venues, with about 30,000 police officers and soldiers deployed in the capital to protect the leaders and delegates.

U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are among those set to attend.

“So far, there is no direct information that there is a threat from terrorist groups,” said General Jonathan Miano, the head of the APEC security task force. “The only threats that we are expecting are the threats from rallyists.”

On Thursday, summit organizers said all buildings along a major boulevard near Manila Bay designated for use by summit vehicles ferrying world leaders were advised to keep their windows shut as a security measure.

There are no known links between Islamic State fighters and Philippine terror groups, but Islamist militants based in the country’s south have carried out several attacks in Manila in the past.

In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said terrorism would be on the agenda of G20 meetings he is to attend, along with other leaders, in Turkey next week.

“This latest incident renders our discussions more relevant and urgent than ever,” Lee said on his Facebook page.

Singapore does not disclose details of its alert level.

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