Stay away from Sulu, US warns citizens
MANILA, Philippines – The United States updated its travel advisory on the Philippines on Monday, May 19, citing "terrorist and insurgent activities" – particularly in the Sulu archipelago in Mindanao and in the southern Sulu Sea area – as "continuing threats."
In a statement, the US State Department said this new alert replaces its travel warning on January 10.
“US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there,” the State Department said.
The State Department pointed to “kidnappings and attempted kidnappings of foreigners” in Sabah and in the southern Sulu Sea area “by terrorist or insurgent groups” based in the Sulu archipelago.
On May 6 alone, Filipino gunmen allegedly seized a Chinese citizen near Lahad Datu, on the eastern side of Sabah facing southern Philippines.
In April, abductors believed to be from the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group also kidnapped Chinese tourist Gao Huayun, 29, and Filipina resort worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, from a resort in Sabah.
“US citizens should exercise extreme caution if considering travel in the southern Sulu Sea region between Balabac Island and Palawan, in the Philippines; Sabah, Malaysia; and east to Zamboanga City, Mindanao, in the Philippines,” the State Department said.
US citizens should also "continue to exercise extreme caution" when traveling to the island of Mindanao, it added. – Rappler.com