US warns of Mindanao terrorist threats
Australia, UK and Canada also issue advisories
Philippine troops take a rest during recent fighting in Zamboanga City (Photo by Al Jacintoi)
The United States embassy in Manila yesterday warned US citizens of a "series of credible security threats" in the southern Philippines region of Mindanao.
In an 'emergency message,' the embassy said individuals associated with known extremist and insurgent groups "are believed to have been conducting surveillance on a number of public locations in these areas as possible targets of interest."
It said the embassy is aware of threats in the provinces of Davao, North and South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and Maguindanao.
"Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests," said the advisory.
The Philippines military, however, said it has no information similar to that disclosed by the US embassy.
"We do not have the same information.... They may have information that is different from [ours]," said military spokesman Lt Col Ramon Zagala, adding that Philippines security officials "respect" the US advisory in light of "what happened in Mindanao," referring to the recent conflict with Moro National Liberation Front fighters in Zamboanga City.
"It is the right of another country to protect their citizens. We respect that and we already have troops on the ground, not just in Zamboanga but all over Mindanao, ready for any contingencies if anything does happen," Zagala said.
Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada last night also issued advisories warning their citizens of "possible terrorist attacks" in Mindanao.
Canada warned that bomb attacks "could occur at any time in Manila and other key cities, and could target places frequented by foreigners."
US Secretary of State John Kerry meanwhile announced in Brunei that he had postponed his visit to the Philippines "because of a major typhoon which appears to be headed for Manila."
The announcement said Kerry has committed to visit Manila before the year ends.
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