The US State Department has warned U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu Archipelago and the island of Mindanao. It issued a Travel Warning update on Thursday, which reflects continuing threats in those areas due to terrorist and insurgent activities.
U.S. citizens have been advised 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.
U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution if traveling to the island of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines. Throughout Mindanao, criminal groups have clashed sporadically with the Philippine Armed Forces, particularly in rural areas, and terrorist groups have kidnapped international travelers and carried out bombings that have resulted in injuries and deaths. In Cotabato City, and in the Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces, the government maintains a state of emergency that compels a greater police presence in those areas.
Security and safety conditions in the urban centers of Davao City, General Santos City, and Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao are generally more controlled. Nevertheless, official U.S. Government visitors and Embassy employees must receive special authorization from the Embassy to travel to any location in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, including these urban centers.
U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in the Philippines have been advised to review the Department of State's Country Specific Information for the Philippines, which contains additional information about conditions throughout the country.
The State Department said it remains concerned about the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. The Department's current message recommending Worldwide Caution reminds U.S. citizens that terrorism can occur anywhere.
All U.S. citizens in the Philippines have been encouraged to enroll with the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or at the U.S. Embassy in Manila so that they can receive the Embassy's most recent security and safety updates during their trip.
U.S. 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.
by RTT Staff Writer
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