US renews travel warning for Philippines' south

Britain and US say rising threat of terrorism and kidnapping from Sulu Archipelago to Sulu Sea propose risk to nationals

US renews travel warning for Philippines' south

World Bulletin / News Desk

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for the southern Philippines, warning Americans to avoid the area due to the threat of terrorism, kidnapping and insurgency.

The travel note calls on all of its citizens to avoid “all non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago and through the southern Sulu Sea, and to exercise extreme caution when traveling to the island of Mindanao".

On Wednesday, the British government also issued a similar warning, citing "a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping".

Terrorist and insurgent groups based in the Sulu Archipelago continue to target foreigners for kidnapping in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia and in the southern Sulu Sea area, according to the U.S.

Tensions have been on the rise in the region since a peace process between the Philippines government and the area's one-time largest Moro rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was shelved.

Since January 2015, at least 15 separate kidnapping incidents have been reported across Mindanao.

In Western Mindanao, terrorist, insurgent, and criminal gangs regularly conduct kidnappings for ransom, including the kidnapping of a foreigner in the south in early October 2015 by unknown assailants, the U.S. said.

In September, members of the Abu Sayyaf Group -- listed by the U.S. and Philippines as a terrorist organization -- kidnapped a Filipino woman, two Canadians and a Norwegian from the popular resort island in the south.

The militants threatened to behead the foreign hostages April 25 if a $19.5-million ransom is not paid.

Washington has long expressed concern about the presence of terrorist groups in the Philippines, specifically the ISIL-linked Abu Sayyaf Group and the Jemaah Islamiyah in Mindanao.

It has warned its citizens from traveling to the country and other parts of Mindanao and to avoid public areas like ship and bus terminals, places of worships and shopping malls.​

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Nisan 2016, 14:34