UK reiterates alert against Mindanao travel in wake of blast

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04:24 PM August 7th, 2013

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By: Tarra Quismundo, August 7th, 2013 04:24 PM

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MANILA, Philippines—The United Kingdom has reissued its warning against travel to most parts of Mindanao, making it the first nation to update its advisory in the wake of Monday’s powerful blast in Cotabato City that so far left eight people–not nine as erroneously reported earlier–and 40 others injured.

In an update dated August 6, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office renewed the warning to its citizens to avoid parts of Mindanao amid a “high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping.”

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to southwest Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of ongoing terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao for the same reasons,” said UK FCO’s updated travel advisory.

“On Monday, 5 August, a suspected car bomb in Cotabato City killed at least eight people and injured over thirty. Cotabato City is located in a part of the Philippines where the FCO advise against all travel,” said the FCO.

The Inquirer’s Mindanao Bureau erroneously reported on Tuesday that 5-year-old girl Jearice (not Jeanice) Menak, who was among the wounded in the bombing, expired while being treated at the Notre Dame Hospital in Cotabato City. The misinformation had apparently stemmed from a listing of a hospital office of that city’s social welfare development office where Jearice’s name was inadvertently placed under the column “DDP” (discharged dead patients). The notice was, however, immediately corrected to indicate that the girl was still alive.

Authorities are looking at the link between local politics and drug trafficking as the possible motive behind the blast. The investigation continues just as an improvised explosive device went off the town of Midsayap in North Cotabato before dawn yesterday, damaging property but causing no injuries.

The UK advisory made no reference to the current global terror alert across the Middle East and North Africa, which prompted the United States to shut its outposts in the areas of concern.

More than 113,000 British nationals traveled to the Philippines last year and most had “trouble free” visits, the FCO said.

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