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Source: Manilla Times

Citing threats of violence and kidnappings, the United States embassy in Manila has warned American nationals to avoid traveling to the Southern Philippines.

The advisory came amid reports of the existence of a group of Muslim militants from Mindanao who joined and are being trained by the extremist group Islamic State (IS).

The rebel groups Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Abu Sayyaf have reportedly pledged allegiance and support to IS.

“The Embassy strongly reiterates the recommendation in our current travel warning that US citizens exercise extreme caution when traveling to Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, and to keep personal safety and security in mind during any stay in the southern Philippines,” the advisory said.

The US government reminded US citizens “residing in, or traveling to, the southern Philippines of the ongoing threat of violence and kidnappings in many parts of the region.”

“Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups and insurgent groups remain active in the southern Philippines, including many areas of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago,” the advisory said.

It said the kidnappings of foreigners by the Abu Sayyaf in neighboring Malaysia and by various groups in Mindanao “underscore the continuing threat.”

“Despite recent movement towards a political settlement in Mindanao, separatist and insurgent groups remain active, conducting bombings and attacking Philippine security forces,” the advisory said.

The US embassy was apparently referring to the peace process between the government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

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