Canada warned its nationals against the threat of kidnapping in the Philippines particularly in “Mindanao and surrounding areas,” following the beheading of a second Canadian national by the Abu Sayyaf.
In a June 24 travel advice on the Philippines, the Canadian government advised its nationals to “(b)e alert to the danger of kidnap-for-ransom.”
“Since late 2015, cases of kidnapping involving foreigners have become more frequent. Victims have been subjected to extremely harsh treatment for prolonged periods and there has been an increase in the number of foreigners executed by their captors,” the advisory said.
The Canadian government cited the abduction of four people from Samal Island last September 21, 2015. The four were Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel, who were beheaded by suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf.
On June 24, the Abu Sayyaf released Filipina Marites Flor, leaving only a Norwegian national still held captive.
Canada said the threat of kidnapping “is particularly high in the Mindanao Region and surrounding areas,” but could also occur elsewhere, especially in coastal areas.
“Boaters in waters around Mindanao and the Sulu Sea also face an elevated threat of kidnapping,” it said.
Also, Canada maintained its advice to its nationals about a “serious risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in (the Mindanao) region.”
“Bombs causing deaths and injuries have exploded in public areas of major centers, including the cities of Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Kidapawan, Zamboanga, General Santos, Jolo and Isabela,” it said.
“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,” it added.
The Canadian government advised its nationals to “avoid all travel” to the Mindanao region and vicinity except urban areas of Davao City “due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping.”
It said the advisory applied to Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao provinces, as well as to the Zamboanga Peninsula and the provinces of Davao del Sur, Sarangani, Lanao del Norte, Davao del Norte, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, Cotabato, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.
The advisory also warned against travel to the Sulu Archipelago and the southern Sulu Sea from the southern tip of Palawan, due to the threat of piracy and kidnappings in this area.