Aug 122013


MANILA, Philippines – Hong Kong has updated its travel advisory against the Philippines, citing the car bomb explosion in Cotabato last week and the United States’ warning of possible kidnapping threats in Mindanao.

“Serious hostage-taking incident happened in Manila on 23 August 2010. Residents should avoid all travel to the country. Those who are already there should attend to personal safety and exercise caution,” the advisory said.

The Outbound Travel Alert, issued by the Security Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), was revised on their website August 9, 2013.

Last August 23, 2010, some 20 Hong Kong tourists on a bus were held hostage at gun point by Rolando Mendoza, a relieved police officer who wanted to get his job back.

Mendoza and the eight hostages were killed when negotiations broke down and a gun fight ensued between him and authorities.

“On early August 2013, a car bomb explosion occurred in southern city of Cotabato, resulting in serious casualties,” it said.

Around nine people were killed in the incident, two of whom were siblings aged five and seven.

“On 29 May 2013, the US Embassy in Manila issued a message to US citizens in the Philippines warning against a credible kidnap threat against foreigners in the Zamboanga area on the island of Mindanao,” it added.

It further cited travel advisories issued by China, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom that all specified Mindanao as an area that should be avoided because of security threats.

“There is 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,” the Australian travel advisory issued August 1, 2013 read.

The Canadian travel advisory posted on their website and updated August 11 said, “The threat of terrorist activities exists, particularly in Mindanao. Westerners and western interests could be targeted. Bomb attacks could occur at any time in Manila and other key cities, and could target places frequented by foreigners.”

The British travel advisory likewise cited the security situation in Mindanao saying, “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against all travel to south-west Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of on-going terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. The FCO advises against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao for the same reasons.”

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Tags: Cotabato explosion , Features , Global Nation , Mindanao , national security

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