GMA News Online

After Maundy Thursday blasts, UK renews southern PHL travel warning

April 6, 2012 2:01pm

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Friday renewed its travel advise for Southwest Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, because of "ongoing terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups."
The warning was issued after two simultaneous blasts rocked Palawan province on Maundy Thursday–one near a bus station in Puerto Princesa, the other just outside a resort in El Nido–injuring at least four people.
"We advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao for the same reason," the FCO said, noting three–not four–were injured.
The FCO is a government agency that promotes UK interests overseas.
"On 5 April there were two explosions on the island of Palawan, one in El Nido and one in Puerto Princesa.  Three people are reported to have been injured, but there are no reports of any British casualties.  British nationals in the area are advised to call home to let family know they are safe," it said in the updated travel advice.
"Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers. Such places could include, but are not limited to, airports, shopping malls, places of worship etc.," it said.
Kidnapping could occur anywhere, including on coastal and island resorts and dive boats and sites in the Sulu Sea, it said.
However, the FCO did not advise British nationals to avoid the area as of Friday noon, Manila time.
The FCO also maintained there is a high incidence of violent crime, including gun crime where British nationals have been recent victims, but there is no evidence that they are specifically targeted.
"Criminal gangs sometimes use terrorist tactics, such as kidnapping and explosions. Explosions attributed to criminal organizations have caused fatalities," it added.
The FCO cited Philippine Tourism Department figures showing over 130,000 British tourists visited the Philippines in 2011.
Most visits are trouble-free, with 171 British nationals needing consular assistance in the Philippines between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011. —VS, GMA News
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