The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said Thursday it had received information of possible terror threats against Westerners visiting a popular shopping area of the city on or around Christmas Day. 

The message said that U.S. citizens were being urged to "exercise heightened vigilance" and the U.S. government personnel had been similarly guided.

The warning was issued for the Sanlitun area of Beijing, which is located northeast of the city's central Tiananmen Square and is home to many Western expatriates. The area also features many popular bars and restaurants and is where Apple opened its first store in China in 2008.

The U.S. warning was echoed by the British and French embassies, as well as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Associated Press reported that armed police were on guard in the area Thursday. Roads leading into the embassy area were closed to traffic.

The neighborhood was the scene of a deadly stabbing attack this past August. In that incident, a sword-wielding man attacked a Chinese woman and a French man, with the woman later dying at a local hospital.

Beijing police announced Thursday they had issued a yellow security alert to ensure safety during the Christmas period. According to Beijing's security regulations, the alert is the lowest on a three-tier security scale and is issued in the case of the receipt of threats to safety or finding suspected explosives. Police commonly issue a yellow alert during holiday periods.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.