UK, Canada caution citizens vs traveling in Visayas, Mindanao due to terrorism threat

MANILA — Now its Canada and the United Kingdom’s turn to issue their respective travel advisories to their citizens advising them to exercise a “high degree of caution” while in the Philippines due to a “high threat of terrorism” in Visayas and Mindanao.

Early in the week, the United States and Australia issued their respective travel warnings to their citizens after they gathered intelligence reports that unidentified armed group are planning to kidnap them.

The Canadian government cited the April 9 advisory from the United States Embassy in Manila warning Americans against traveling to Central Visayas, including the tourist-famous Bohol and Cebu provinces, due to “unsubstantiated yet credible information” on kidnap-for-ransom threats from terror groups.

On Tuesday, a firefight that lasted up to midnight and left at least nine dead ensued between government forces and suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Barangay Napo in Inabanga, Bohol.

In a travel advisory, Global Affairs Canada urged its citizens to avoid all travel to Mindanao including the Sulu archipelago and the southern Sulu Sea and waters off southern Palawan Island, but excluding urban areas of Davao City, due to the “serious threat of terrorist attacks, piracy, and kidnappings” in the area.

“There is a serious risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in this region. Bombs causing deaths and injuries have exploded in public areas of major centers, including the cities of Cotabato, Davao, General Santos, Isabela, Jolo, Kidapawan and Zamboanga,” the advisory read.

“Clashes occur between insurgent groups and between armed groups and security forces. These incidents often result in deaths and property destruction, and innocent bystanders have occasionally been taken hostage. Several foreigners have been kidnapped in this region. If you are visiting or living in this region despite this advisory, review your security situation regularly and take appropriate precautions, particularly when visiting places frequented by foreigners,” it added.

Canada, however, noted that there was no nationwide advisory in effect for the Philippines.UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) also warned British citizens against all travel to Western Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of “terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups” and advised them to remain vigilant at all times and report anything suspicious to local authorities.”

“The FCO advice against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism,” it said.

“There is a high threat from terrorism throughout the country. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at anytime and anywhere in the country. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners like airports, shopping malls, public transport and places of worship,” the advisory further said.

Philippine chief of police Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, earlier confirmed terrorist threats to kidnap tourists in Central Visayas but assured the public that government s. security forces were on top of the situation. Sammy Martin/

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