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Violence: Canada issues fresh travel alert on Philippines


March 8, 2007: The government of Canada has warned its citizens to be wary of attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) and against travel to Mindanao in the Philippines.

In its travel advisory updated on March 9, 2007, the Canadian embassy in Manila, capital of the Philippines, also reiterated its warning against attending political rallies in the run-up to the May 14, 2007, elections.

“Attacks continue to occur in Manila, the region of Mindanao, and other areas where insurgent groups are active. You are advised against all travel to Mindanao, including the Sulu Archipelago and the Zamboanga Peninsula, unless you have critical or compelling business or family reasons. There is a threat of a terrorist attack, which could occur at anytime in this region,” the Canadian embassy said in its updated travel advisory.

“In the run-up to the mid-term elections May 14, 2007, the frequency and size of political rallies, protests, and demonstrations are expected to increase, as is the potential for violence. Canadians are advised to avoid large public gatherings,” the travel advisory warns.

The Philippines government recently stepped up attacks on the NPA, which it accuses of extorting protection money and permit-to-campaign money from candidates running in the May 14 polls. It had also passed an anti-terrorism law a few days ago.

The travel advisory for Mindanao was first issued in January 2007, after a bomb exploded near a market in General Santos City, causing several deaths and injuries.

Two more explosions had occurred in Kidapawan City and Cotabato City, also resulting in injuries to several people.

“Continuing reports suggest that there is an ongoing terrorist threat to Westerners and Western interests in the Philippines. The Philippine authorities have warned that there may be bomb attacks in Manila and other key cities. Visitors can expect to be subject to frequent security checks at public and private facilities, including shopping malls and public transportation,” according to the travel advisory.

It said “attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in the Philippines.”

Bombings and crime-related shootings have rocked Mindanao, Manila and other parts of the Philippines. Explosive devices continue to be unearthed by security authorities.

The advisory asks all Canadians in the Philippines to be vigilant and comply with all security procedures. Anything suspicious should be reported immediately to the nearest security authority, it added.

Canadians are also asked to be alert to the danger of kidnapping in the Philippines.

“Though government action has reduced the frequency, there remain reports of planned kidnap-for-ransom of business people. Kidnappings have occurred throughout the country, including in Manila and several resort areas, and deaths have resulted in some cases. Canadians should be cautious when travelling to, and around, coastal areas and island resorts,” the Canadian embassy’s advisory adds.



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