4 countries issue travel alerts amid Zambo crisis
MANILA, Philippines - Four countries – Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States – have warned their citizens against traveling to Zamboanga and other parts of Mindanao due to ongoing clashes between the military and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and threats of kidnapping and terrorist attack.
Australia advised its citizens not travel to central and western Mindanao including Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Peninsula and Sulu Archipelago due to threats of kidnapping, terrorist attack, crime and clashes between armed groups and the military in Zamboanga City.
Australia cited the UK government’s advice to its citizens about a credible and imminent kidnap threat against foreigners in Zamboanga del Norte.
“Recent bombings and kidnappings in Zamboanga demonstrate a heightened threat environment in that area. Possible targets include locations where people gather, which may include hotels, shopping centers, restaurants and educational and government facilities in and around Zamboanga City,” the advisory said.
The Australian embassy continues to receive reports indicating that militants based in Mindanao are planning to kidnap Westerners.
“If you are in central or western Mindanao, you are strongly advised to leave immediately,” it said.
Canada discouraged its citizens from going to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) – composed of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi Tawi – and in Davao del Norte, Lanao del Norte, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Peninsula due to threats of terrorist attack and kidnapping.
“There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the Philippines. However, you should exercise high degree of caution due to an ongoing terrorist threat to Westerners and Western interests,” the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada said.