UK issues travel warning for Mindanao after Jolo blasts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 27 2019 07:35 PM

Bombing at Jolo Catheral. Courtesy of Matthew Ruby

MANILA - The United Kingdom warned its citizens against travelling to parts of Mindanao and the south of Cebu, including the towns of Dalaguete and Badian "due to the threat of terrorism."

In its advisory published Sunday, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) cited the twin blasts at a Catholic church in Jolo town in Sulu, which resulted in the death of at least 20 individuals. 

The FCO particularly advised against "all travels to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups."

At least 20 people, including civilians and security officers, died in the twin blasts at a church in Jolo on Sunday morning, while over 80 more were injured, according the police and military

The blast happened less than a week after the people of Muslim Mindanao ratified a law grants their region greater autonomy. It was part of a peace pact between Moro rebels and the government.

Authorities, however, said it is too early to connect the twin blasts in Jolo, which is also a part of Muslim Mindanao, to the recent referendum. 

The military has also yet to identify the perpetrators of the blasts but it said they had information earlier that the Abu Sayyaf, an Al Qaeda-linked group, was planning to bomb an urban area in Sulu.

The Palace of Malacañang already condemned the blasts, and vowed to "crush" and pursue the perpetrators "to the ends of the Earth." 

The governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, meanwhile, called for sobriety after the blast and asked the people to continue working for peace in the restive south.

The British government body also told its citizens in the Philippines to follow the advisories of local authorities as the 2019 midterm polls near. 

"It’s not uncommon to see increases in election related violence in the run up to elections. You should keep up to date with local activity and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings of people," the FCO added.