Metro Manila tightened security at Saudi embassy

Philippine officials said Wednesday that they have strengthened security for Saudi Arabia's embassy and its national airline because of a possible threat. Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said the Saudi government had asked several countries, including the Philippines, for improved security. He said he was unaware of the nature of the reported threat.

Seguis noted that Saudi Arabia has a conflict with Iran, where the Saudi Embassy recently came under attack, but said it's hard to say whether the reported threat was connected to that.

"It's our responsibility under international convention to protect, as a host state, foreign diplomatic missions," Seguis said by phone. "It's just a security augmentation, maybe because of their present situation with Iran."

Protesters set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and attacked its consulate in another Iranian city in response to the kingdom's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric on January 2.

The protests prompted Saudi Arabia to cut diplomatic ties with Iran, escalating tensions between the longtime regional rivals.

Chief Superintendent Pablo Balagtas, who heads the national police's Aviation Security Group, said additional armed officers have been posted in the boarding area of the Saudi flag carrier, which operates flights between Manila and Jeddah, at Manila's international airport.

Police were also deployed to help guard the airline's luggage area and carry out patrols "for deterrence," Balagtas said.

Additional police were also deployed at the Saudi Embassy and the ambassador's residence, Seguis said.

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