GMA News Online

Citing terror threat, Australia bars envoys from traveling to 3 Mindanao cities

July 2, 2013 4:38am
Citing a possible threat from terrorism, Australia on Monday barred its embassy staff from traveling to three major Mindanao cities "until further notice."

In an update to its travel advice, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said this travel ban applies to Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga Cities.

The Australian government also continued to "strongly advise" its nationals "not to travel to central and western Mindanao, including the Zamboanga Peninsula and Sulu Archipelago, due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, violent crime and violent clashes between armed groups."

"If you are in central or western Mindanao, you are strongly advised to leave immediately," it said.

"We continue to advise you to reconsider your need to travel to eastern Mindanao," it added, which included Bukidnon, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur.

It said this was  "due to the very high levels of violent crime and the high threat of terrorist attack."

The Australian government said it continues to receive reports showing "militants based in the southern Philippines are planning to kidnap Westerners."

They also said there was a danger of kidnapping throughout the Philippines, particularly in the southern Philippines, including coastal and island tourist resorts, dive sites, and live-aboard dive boats including in remote locations in the Sulu Sea.

Terrorists have kidnapped foreigners from these areas in the past, it added.

"If you decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance," said the Australian department. — DVM, GMA News
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