The Canadian government is warning its citizens of a “serious risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings” in the Mindanao region of the Philippines.
Global Affairs Canada updated the security tab of its travel advisory following the deadly bombing on September 2 at a street market in Davao City.
As of September 3, media reports from the Philippines state that the explosion killed 14 people and wounded 71 others.
Davao City is the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, whose government is waging a major military offensive against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao.
Based on media reports, Abu Sayyaf has claimed responsibility for the Davao City bombing attack.
In its travel advisory, the Canadian government stated: “Bombs causing deaths and injuries have exploded in public areas of major centres, including the cities of Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Kidapawan, Zamboanga, General Santos, Jolo and Isabela. On September 2, 2016, an explosion at a street market outside the Marco Polo hotel in Davao left 12 people dead and dozens injured. Avoid the area, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.”
The advisory also stated: “Clashes occur between insurgent groups, and between armed groups and security forces. These incidents often result in deaths and property destruction, and innocent bystanders have occasionally been taken hostage.”
The advisory went on to state that several foreigners have been kidnapped in Mindanao.
The Abu Sayyaf had previously kidnapped two Canadians. Both Canadians – John Ridsel and Robert Hall – were beheaded.
The Canadian government’s advisory also told its citizens: “If you are visiting or living in this region despite this Advisory, review your security situation regularly and take appropriate precautions, particularly when visiting places frequented by foreigners.”
Canada does not have a nationwide advisory in effect for the Philippines.
“However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to an ongoing terrorist threat to Westerners and Western interests,” according to Global Affairs Canada.
At least four other countries have issued travel warnings to their citizens in the Philippines following the deadly explosion on September 2.
These are the U.S., Australia, U.K., and Singapore.
The U.S. embassy in Manila said in its advisory that it was temporarily suspended all official travel to Mindanao.
Abu Sayyaf spokesperson Abu Rami said the Davao attack is a “call for unity to all mujahideen in the country” amid the all-out offensive of the military against the group.
Rami said that the attack in Davao City is not part of a tactic to divert the attention of government forces who have been pursuing the bandits in Sulu and Basilan.
President Duterte earlier ordered intensified operations to finish off the 400-strong terror group.