The US Embassy published over the week end a travel warning for both islands of Cebu and Bohol in Central Visayas. According to Philippines newspaper the Sunstar,the Embassy’s travel advisory warns US citizens against possible kidnappings in Central Visayas, especially in Cebu and Bohol.
On the Embassy’s website, the advice is as follows: “The U.S. Embassy has received unsubstantiated yet credible information that terrorist groups may attempt to conduct kidnappings in Central Visayas, which includes both Cebu and Bohol provinces. U.S. citizens are advised to carefully consider this information as you make your travel plans, and to review personal security plans, avoid large crowds and gatherings, and remain vigilant at all times.”
“The U.S. Embassy wishes to remind U.S. citizens of the most recent Worldwide Caution, dated March 7, 2017, which indicates there is an ongoing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests abroad, including the Philippines. Extremists have targeted sporting events, theaters, markets, mass transportation systems–including airlines, and other public venues where large crowds gather. Crowded nightclubs, shopping malls, buses and popular restaurants have also been targets. U.S. citizens should be mindful of the importance of taking preventative measures to ensure their safety and security while traveling and residing in the Philippines”.
The travel warning was issued two days ahead of a violent clash which involved Islamist fundamentalists on Bohol island. In an official communication, military and police forces indicated that nine people were killed in a fight between government forces and suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits in Bohol province on April 11.
Five members of the armed group, one policeman and three Army soldiers were killed in the clash while the army seized high-powered firearms — three M16 and one M4 — from the bandits. Officials added that the militants travelled to Central Visayas by boat from the southern province islands of Mindanao.
Central Visayas received last year some 5.8 million of domestic and international visitors.