Tourists warned over militant group’s kidnap plot in the Philippines
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it respects the United States government’s decision to issue the travel advisory.
The police earlier foiled an attempt by Abu Sayyaf bandits in Bohol to kidnap tourists, just as the Philippines was holding a summit meeting of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Security forces found the militants a day after they arrived on speedboats from Bohol, which is 500 kilometers north from the Abu Sayyaf’s bases, and engaged them in a gun battle.
Nine militants, three soldiers and one policeman were killed in the clashes, authorities said.
Warnings have also been issued by the Canadian and British embassies on Wednesday, highlighting concerns in the Philippines, around Bohol, Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu in particular.
The Bohol raid occurred days after the United States embassy issued a warning on potential kidnappings there and the neighboring island of Cebu, which has a major city of the same name.
“We have already coordinated with the authorities both the AFP and the police, to be on heightened alert”, Park Superintendent Elizabeth Maclang said.
The two terror groups obviously want to stage their disgusting kidnaping operations and sow terror in popular tourist spots to raise ransom money in the case of the Abu Sayyaf, and score a propaganda point in the case of ISIS.
The Abu Sayyaf raided a resort in Puerto Princesa’s Honda Bay in 2001, abducting three Americans and 17 Filipinos.
In recent years the kidnapping threat had largely been restricted to the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.
Before the incident in Bohol, the US Embassy in Manila and other countries issued travel advisories for their citizens against travelling to Western Visayas, including Bohol and Cebu, due to threats of kidnapping and terrorism, but the government treated such warnings with a caution, saying the issuance of travel advisories were normal for foreign governments as part of their efforts to protect their citizens.
Mr. Duterte previous year ordered a major military offensive to extinguish the Abu Sayyaf on their southern bases, but the militant threat continued to grow.
The Foreign Office warns that terrorists are “very likely to try to carry out attacks” in the Philippines and lists several groups capable of operating throughout the country.
“We have a problem with terrorism”.
Guerrero said among the reports they received, but was not validated was that the ASG will enter Palawan, with Coron as the target for kidnapping.
However, the Philippine’s Western Command (Wescom) said that the island, which boasts hidden beaches, emerald lagoons and towering limestone cliffs, is safe for visitors.
“We have spruced up the place both physically and with the strength of the security forces”, Duterte told reporters before leaving for Cambodia.
“All units and assets are being utilized to ensure maximum security to deny any terrorist group’s entry and access in the high seas and coastal areas”, he added.