Philippines terrorist threat prompts travel warning

When the U.S. Department of State issues a travel warning related to terrorism its serious business. Concerned about the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world, its a reminder that terrorism can occur anywhere.

“Travelers should exercise extreme caution if traveling to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago. Regional terrorist groups have carried out bombings resulting in injuries and death” the department of state said in the warning.

Indeed, the Philippines have a long history of terrorist activities with hundreds killed in bombings and other attacks by Islamic extremists. The Philippines has also been called the “Kidnapping Capital of Asia”, with kidnap-for-ransom establishing itself as a popular and lucrative business for the Philippine underworld. But the latest focus on terrorism in the Philippines may stem from a fear of Islamist militant groups that may be plotting attacks to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden last month in Pakistan.

That should be plenty of reasons for caution when thinking of travel to the Philippines. Tourism officials in the Philippines, unlike their Mexican counterparts, have been silent so far but law enforcement officials downplay the US travel warning.”I am not saying there is no immediate threat. [But] there is no specific report of terrorist threats in the country,” Philippine National Police Director General Raul M. Bacalzo told Inquirer News.

This might be one to watch.

For more detailed information on general crime and security issues in the Philippines, see the State Department’s Country Specific Information for the Philippines.

You may also obtain information on security by calling the State Department at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays)

Flickr photo by Maks Karochkin