MANILA, Philippines — The United States Embassy in Manila told its citizens, on Monday, to stay away from the Zamboanga area amid clashes between government forces and armed members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
In an emergency message posted on its website late afternoon Monday, the Embassy urged Americans already in Zamboanga City to seek shelter and follow security advisories from local authorities.
“The U.S. Embassy in Manila advises U.S. citizens against any travel to the Zamboanga region due to ongoing clashes between Philippine security forces and armed insurgents of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),” read the US emergency message.
The US has a standing warning for citizens to “exercise extreme caution” if they wish to travel to Mindanao and to “defer non-essential travel” to the Sulu Archipelago due to threats of violence and kidnapping. The emergency message updates this warning with fresh security information.
Reiterating its July 5 travel warning, the Embassy said: “The Embassy urges all U.S. citizens to postpone any travel to the Zamboanga peninsula area at this time. The Embassy strongly reiterates its recommendation that U.S. citizens exercise extreme caution when travelling to Mindanao and to keep personal safety and security in mind during any stay in Mindanao.”
The Embassy informed Americans of clashes in Barangays Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Tetuan, Talon-Talon, and Mariki in Zamboanga City, where MNLF forces attacked early Monday.
“The Zamboanga City airport is currently closed. We have no information at this time whether the clashes will expand to neighboring areas, nor how long they may continue,” the Embassy said.
“U.S. citizens in the Zamboanga City area should shelter in place to avoid becoming involved in the fighting or should follow any instructions from local authorities regarding evacuation,” it said further.
The emergency message also urged citizens to be careful if traveling to neighboring Basilan province.