US issues new travel warning

By: Priscilla - July 06th 2013

By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 7, 2013 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines – American nationals in the Philippines have been advised by their government to continue taking “extreme caution” when traveling to Sulu due to kidnapping threats as well as insurgency-related violence. “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,” said a US embassy travel alert released on Friday. Australia and Canada also issued warnings on Wednesday about new threats of kidnapping and terrorism in Mindanao. The US advisory also noted greater police presence in Cotabato City, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat due to a prevailing state of emergency. Throughout Mindanao, criminal groups have clashed sporadically with government troops particularly in rural areas, while terrorists have kidnapped international travelers and carried out deadly bombings, the advisory said.

However, the US embassy said security situation in urban centers of Davao City, General Santos City, and Cagayan de Oro City are generally more controlled.

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Nevertheless, US embassy employees are under instructions to first secure special authorization before traveling to any part of Mindanao, particularly the Sulu archipelago. American citizens traveling to or residing in the Philippines are also advised to review the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for the Philippines or tap its Traveler Enrollment Program for detailed information and updates. “US citizens traveling in the region are encouraged to stay up to date on conditions across the globe by bookmarking the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution,” it said.