The United States Embassy in Manila warned all Americans in the Philippines to be extra careful when traveling to Central Visayas, and cited possible kidnapping from terrorist groups. The travel advisory was posted at the official website of the US Embassy this Sunday, April 9, as Catholics attended mass and celebrated Palm Sunday.
“The U.S. Embassy has received unsubstantiated yet credible information that terrorist groups may attempt to conduct kidnappings in Central Visayas, which includes both Cebu and Bohol provinces. U.S. citizens are advised to carefully consider this information as you make your travel plans, and to review personal security plans, avoid large crowds and gatherings, and remain vigilant at all times.” It said.
“The U.S. Embassy wishes to remind U.S. citizens of the most recent Worldwide Caution, dated March 7, 2017, which indicates there is an ongoing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests abroad, including the Philippines.” The US Embassy added, addressing the travel warning to all its citizens in the country.
“Extremists have targeted sporting events, theaters, markets, mass transportation systems–including airlines, and other public venues where large crowds gather. Crowded nightclubs, shopping malls, buses and popular restaurants have also been targets.” The US Embassy said further, as it emphasizes the importance of taking preventative measures.
And although the US Embassy did not mention the names of these extremist groups, it can be assumed that they could be referring to Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Ansar Al-Khilafa Philippines and the Maute group. Nevertheless, the Philippine military and the PNP (Philippine National Police) have been monitoring their activities very closely.
Last March 25, operatives from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) arrested Kuwaiti national Husayn Al-Dhafiri and his Syrian wife Rahaf Zina, in an entrapment operation in Taguig City. The couple presented to the media last Thursday, with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre saying that Al-Dhafiri has suspected links to terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).