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Canada to citizens: Avoid travels to Mindanao

Canadians were told to avoid all travels to Mindanao, excluding urban areas of Davao City, due to serious threats of terrorist attacks and kidnapping. AP, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Canadian government on Tuesday warned its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines due to the threat of terrorism and the high level of crime.

Canadians were told to avoid all travels to Mindanao, excluding urban areas of Davao City, due to serious threats of terrorist attacks and kidnapping.

“There is a serious risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in this region. Bombs causing deaths and injuries have exploded in public areas of major centers, including the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, General Santos, Isabela, Jolo, Kidapawan and Zamboanga,” the latest travel advisory said.

It also cited the Marawi siege which took place from May to October and the declaration of martial law in the region.

The Islamic city was the scene of intense battles between security forces and militants following a failed attempt by the military to arrest a terror cell leader in one of its suburbs.

The Canadian government also discouraged its nationals from doing non-essential travel to the urban areas of Davao City because of the implementation of martial law.

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They were likewise cautioned to avoid traveling to the Sulu Archipelago and through the southern Sulu Sea, including the waters off southern Palawan Island, due to the threat of piracy and kidnappings in this area.

Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to the Philippines because of the Zika virus threat.

“The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously,” the Canadian government said.

Early in November, Australia also warned its citizens about a “high threat” of a terrorist attack in the Philippines including the capital city Manila, which came on the heels of the government’s declaration of Marawi’s liberation from Islamic State-inspired terrorists.

READAustralia warns citizens vs 'high threat' of terror attack in Philippines

The United Kingdom likewise cautioned its nationals about travels to western and central Mindanao.

Following the deaths of leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, Duterte declared the city free from terrorist influence. Days later, the government declared the end of the battles that had left much of the city's center in ruins.

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