U.S. renews Mindanao travel warning

MANILA, Philippines – The US State Department on Tuesday, December 20, issued another travel advisory, warning its citizens to avoid “all non-essential travel” and exercise “extreme caution” in Mindanao due to continued terrorist and rebel threats.

“Separatist and terrorist groups continue to carry out attacks and kidnappings against civilians, foreigners, political leaders, and Philippine security forces in Mindanao,” the US said in its advisory.

Since January 2016, the State Department said at least 13 separate kidnappings of foreigners have been reported across Mindanao.

The US State Department cited the 13 separate kidnappings of foreigners reported across Mindanao since January 2016, and the September 2 bombing of Davao City, which prompted the declaration of a state of national emergency via Proclamation No. 55 on account of lawless violence.

“There have been no reports of US citizens in Mindanao targeted specifically for their nationality; however, general threats to US citizens and other foreigners throughout Mindanao remain a concern,” it said.

The newly re-issued travel alert replaced the warning released in April 2016 and also covers the southern tip of Palawan, the coast of Sabah in Malaysia, Sulu, and Zamboanga City.

US government employees are also required to obtain special authorization from embassy security officials before traveling to Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. – Rappler.com