UK warns citizens against travel to southwest Mindanao, Sulu
MANILA, Philippines —The United Kingdom has reminded its nationals not to travel to southwest Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, citing “ongoing terrorist and insurgent activities” in those areas.
In an updated travel advisory, the British Embassy in Taguig City also advised against “all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao for the same reason.”
“There are also ongoing clashes between the military and insurgent groups in the Sulu Archipelago, including Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu,” the embassy also said.
It noted the “high threat from terrorism throughout the Philippines.”
“Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers. Such places could include, but are not limited to airports, shopping malls and places of worships,” among others, the mission said.
It recalled that “on January 25, an explosion on a passenger bus in the Makati district of Manila killed five people and injured 13. (But) there are no reports of foreign nationals involved.”
The embassy also warned of the “threat from kidnapping in the Philippines,” particularly in Mindanao.
“Kidnapping could occur anywhere, including on coastal and island resorts and dive sites in the Sulu Sea. On July 12, two US citizens and a Philippine national were kidnapped from a resort on the island of Tictabon near the southern port city of Zamboanga,” it said.
According to the mission, there is also a “high incidence of violent crimes” in the country.
“British nationals have been victims in the past, but there is no evidence that they are specifically targeted,” it said.
Criminal gangs “sometimes use terrorist tactics, such as kidnappings and explosions.”
There is also a “high incidence of street crimes and robberies,” which often increase during the holiday season, the advisory states.
“Even well-lit and busy city areas cannot be assumed to be safe. You should beware of strangers offering drinks or confectionery. Criminals intent on robbery may lace these to render their victims unconscious,” the embassy warned.
It also asked British nationals to be “particularly vigilant when traveling on public transport. Armed hold-ups have occurred on jeepneys and buses in the Philippines and have in some cases resulted in fatalities. The roadworthiness of some of these vehicles is also a concern.”
The mission also urged UK citizens to avoid flying Philippine government-certified carriers “subject to the European Union operating ban.”
In April 2010, the EU announced the ban following an October 2009 audit of the Philippine carriers by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
“The EU ban has been imposed because the Philippine regulatory authority is unable to verify that these airlines comply with international safety standards,” the embassy added.
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