UK and Australia warn of terror threat after Cotabato City mall bombing

mall bombing

The UK and Australia have warned against travelling to Mindanao after the New Year’s Eve shopping mall bombing in Cotabato City.

The attack — that killed two people and left dozens injured — has been blamed on Islamist militants.

In an update to its travel advisory, the British authorities said: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. 

“The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao (excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands) and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism.”

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Australia has likewise urged its citizens not to travel to Central and Western Mindanao, including Zamboanga and Sulu. Its updated advisory urged travellers to “reconsider their need to travel to Eastern Mindanao and to exercise a high degree of caution whenever they would travel to the entire Philippines”.

mall bombing

The UK has also issued a country-wide terror warning, saying: “Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at anytime and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship.

“You should remain vigilant at all times and report anything suspicious to local authorities.” 

The advice also highlighted a recent report by the American authorities that highlighted “substandard security” at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“Additional security measures are in place on flights departing from this airport to the UK. You should co-operate fully with security officials. The UK keeps aviation security measures under constant review, in conjunction with international partners and the aviation industry,” it said.

Responding to the updated warnings today (Wednesday, January 2), Interior Secretary Eduardo Año  said it was “not right to generalise the existence of threat across the whole of Mindanao”.

He added that while the government recognised the presence of terror groups and communist rebels in the region, they were “isolated in certain areas of Mindanao only”.

He said: “We will intensify military and police operations in those concerned or affected areas of Mindanao. We assure the safety of tourists and travellers in Mindanao.” 

Also speaking today, Chief Superintendent Benigno Durana said: “But as far as the PNP (Philippine National Police) is concerned, everything is back to normal in Cotabato City. The security services of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the PNP are on top of the situation.”

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UK issues travel advisory for Mindanao after Cotabato bombing

WATCH: The United Kingdom (UK) has warned its citizens against traveling to Mindanao after the New Year’s Eve bombing at a shopping mall in Cotabato City that killed two people and left dozens injured.Read more: https://globalnation.inquirer.net/172271/uk-issues-travel-advisory-for-mindanao-after-cotabato-bombing

Posted by INQUIRER.net on Tuesday, January 1, 2019