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Philippines Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Oct 04, 2001

A number of recent security-related incidents highlight the danger of travel in the Philippines. Kidnappings of foreigners, bombings, and other violent incidents call for Americans to exercise great caution throughout the Philippines. Moreover, as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, U.S. citizens and interests may be at increased risk of terrorist actions from extremist groups, as stated in the Worldwide Caution updated by the Department of State on September 28, 2001.

On June 5, 2001, a group of American Navy personnel on leave and their guides were fired upon by an armed group on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo. Americans are warned to avoid hiking or camping in this area.

On May 27, 2001, members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) kidnapped 20 tourists, including three Americans, from Palawan Island in the southern Philippines and took them by boat to Basilan Island. This followed a similar attack by an unknown group on May 22 on a resort on Samal Island near Davao City, Mindanao. That attack was repulsed with the loss of two Filipino lives. The ASG has taken hostage a number of Filipinos and foreign tourists since April 2000. Several were freed after payment of substantial ransoms, some escaped or were rescued by military action, and some were killed by their captors. Other Americans have received threats of kidnapping from persons claiming affiliation with such groups.

There have also been sporadic incidents of violence in southern Mindanao, including bombings in General Santos City and at the Cotabato Airport in Maguindanao Province, as well as bus hijackings on national highways.

The ASG or other groups may attack U.S. citizens and others again. For example, the ASG has been reported in the press as having targeted beach resorts on Boracay Island for kidnappings. Because the ASG has broadened its area of operations and has demonstrated its ability to travel long distances by boat to kidnap foreigners, it is possible that other locations in the Philippines could be attacked. While this ongoing terrorist/criminal campaign of kidnapping foreigners is in progress, Americans should defer travel to beach resorts in the southern Philippines, especially those located away from urban areas.

U.S. citizens are also warned to avoid travel to the southern and western areas of the Island of Mindanao, to include Zamboanga City, due to incidents of terrorism and violence. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to the islands of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Jolo located in the Sulu archipelago in the extreme southwest of the Philippines.

In view of these incidents and the possibility of future terrorist activity or kidnappings for ransom, Americans are urged to maintain a high level of vigilance and to increase their security awareness. For other information on terrorist activities in this region, please refer to the Department of State's Public Announcement - Worldwide Caution dated September 28, 2001, the Travel Warning on Indonesia dated September 27, and the Public Announcement on Malaysia dated June 13, 2001. For further general information on travel to the Philippines, please consult the Department's latest Consular Information Sheet for the Philippines, which is available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. This Public Announcement supersedes the Public Announcement of June 14, 2001, to provide updated security information, and it expires on April 22, 2002.

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