• Mindanao no man’s land for Australians

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    THE Australian government issued a travel advisory prohibiting their embassy staff in the Philippines to travel to three cities-Davao City, Cotabato City and Zamboanga City-in Mindanao (south of Manila) because of “security reasons.”

    In the advisory issued by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, it said that travel to these three cities by embassy officials and personnel are cancelled “until further notice.”

    It then reiterated its previous travel warnings against central, western and eastern Mindanao.

    “We continue to strongly advise you not to travel to central and western Mindanao, including the Zamboanga Peninsula and Sulu Archipelago, due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, violent crime and violent clashes between armed groups,” the advisory said.

    “We continue to advise you to reconsider your need to travel to eastern Mindanao,” it added, which included Bukidnon, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur because of “the very high levels of violent crime and the high threat of terrorist attack.”

    It cited that on May 29, 2013, the United States Embassy in Manila warned its citizens against the “credible kidnap threat” against foreigners in Zamboanga province.

    “We continue to see reports indicating that militants based in the southern Philippines are planning to kidnap Westerners. If you are in central or western Mindanao, you are strongly advised to leave immediately,” the advisory said.

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