US, UK warn of kidnapping threat in Philippines
Palawan was site of kidnapping in 2000 which resulted in the deaths of 22 Filipino soldiers and at least five kidnap victims
By Maecy Alviar
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines
The American and British embassies in Manila warned their citizens Tuesday about kidnapping threats in Palawan province, citing information from local authorities.
In a security alert posted on its website, the U.S. embassy cited the Western Command Armed Forces of the Philippines as saying it “remains on heightened alert and continues to tighten its security posture in Palawan against all forms of threats amidst circulating information on probable kidnapping in the province”.
The embassy reminded Americans to be vigilant, review their personal security plans and monitor local media for updates.
The British government advised its citizens to remain vigilant at all times and cautioned them against traveling to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.
London cited a warning from local authorities in Palawan of a “heightened risk from kidnapping”.
"There has been an increase in kidnapping of foreign nationals, including attacks targeting foreigners and tourists since late 2015. Terrorist groups continue to plan kidnap operations against western nationals in the Philippines," the advisory said.
Palawan is a top tourist destination not only in the Philippines but also in Asia. It ranked fifth this year on Travel + Leisure magazine’s list of Top 10 islands in Asia.
Military and local authorities in Palawan have recently warned the public against a kidnapping threat by the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles, the group has been carrying out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines since 1991.
It has been deemed responsible for the 2000 Dos Palmas Resort kidnappings in Palawan in which 17 Filipinos and three Americans were abducted which led to the deaths of at least 22 Filipino solders and five of the original hostages, including two American nationals.
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