Filipinos told to leave Iraq as bombs hit 2 hotels
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has renewed its call to Filipinos working in Baghdad, Iraq, to come home soon following two hotel bombings that killed at least 15 people and injured two dozen others on Friday.
Elmer Cato, charge d’affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad, described the twin bombing attacks as a “close call” for Filipinos working there even if no Filipino was reported to be among the casualties.
“The Filipinos are not safe here,” Cato said in an online message, urging the nationals to go home following the new wave of violence in the Iraqi capital city.
He said at least 22 Filipinos working at one of the two luxury hotels struck by car bombings had narrowly survived the explosion.
“The suicide bomber hit the VIP lobby of one of the hotels instead of the main lobby. Had he struck the main lobby, there would be a lot of Filipino casualties,” Cato said, noting that the front desk of the hotel was manned by Filipinos.
One Filipino hotel employee was supposed to go to the main lobby but had just gone back to the front desk to get something when the explosion happened, Cato shared.
The DFA in June last year raised the alert level status in Iraq, except Kurdistan, to 4, which prompts the Philippine government to undertake a mandatory evacuation of Filipino nationals at the government’s expense.
According to DFA records, there are still 1,500 Filipinos in Iraq, most of them in Kurdistan.
International news organizations reported that the Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for Friday’s car bombings in Baghdad.