BREAKING NEWS Out Of American Embassy- RED ALERT

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The United States embassy in the Philippines issued a travel warning for the southern region of the Philippines, following terror threats to foreigners, including U.S. citizens.

The U.S. embassy in Manila posted a travel advisory on their website on Tuesday, July 18, advising its citizens to halt “non-essential travel” to the city of Marawi, Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago including the southern Sulu Sea, due to continuing “terrorist threats, insurgent activities, and kidnappings.”

“This area stretches from the southern tip of Palawan, along the coast of eastern Sabah, Malaysia and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago, up to Zamboanga City, Mindanao,” the travel warning explained.

It also advised U.S. citizens to “exercise extreme caution” when traveling to other areas of Mindanao.

“Separatist and terrorist groups continue to attack and kidnap civilians, foreigners, political leaders, and Philippine security forces in Mindanao,” the post read.

“There have been no reports of U.S. citizens in Mindanao targeted specifically for their nationality. However, general threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners throughout Mindanao remain a concern,” it added.

U.S. government personnel were also restricted to travel to Mindanao, according to the country’s State Department. However, if imperative, a U.S. government personnel may obtain “special authorization” before traveling to Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

“[The] U.S. Embassy [in] Manila received credible information that terrorists planned to conduct kidnappings in Palawan, Cebu and Bohol provinces in 2017,”  the advisory warned.

The advisory, which replaces the Travel Warning dated December 20, 2016, cited similar threats that occurred in the Philippines starting September 2016  where terror groups facilitated a bomb explosion in Davao City which killed 14 and injured approximately 70 people. The incident led to the declaration of “State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao.”

Mindanao is currently under the 60-day martial law, which is set to expire this week. President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to extend the martial rule until the end of the year. In an article by Reuters on Tuesday, it said more than 500 people were killed and at least 260,000 have been displaced due to the conflict.

[Source-  Jennifer Soriano at Asian Journal]

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