MANILA - The US State Department has included the Philippines among 35 countries with increased risk of kidnapping or "K", a new risk indicator it introduced recently.
According to the travel advisory released Tuesday on its website, it listed the Philippines as being under Level 2, advising Americans to exercise increased caution when traveling to the country.
"The new 'K' indicator is part of our ongoing commitment to provide clear and comprehensive travel safety information to US citizens so they can make informed travel decisions," the US State Department said.
The advisory is due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, a measles outbreak, and kidnapping in the Philippines. It added that some areas have increased risk.
"Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting possible kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks in the Philippines," the advisory said.
It stated that these groups may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.
Americans are advised from traveling to the Sulu Archipelago, including the southern Sulu Sea due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest and kidnapping.
"Terrorist and armed groups continue to conduct kidnappings on land and at sea for ransom, bombings, and other attacks targeting US citizens, foreigners, civilians, local government institutions, and security forces," it said.
Marawi City in Mindanao is also under the "Do Not Travel" category due to terrorism and civil unrest.
"The Philippine government has declared martial law throughout the Mindanao region. Civilians are at risk of death or injury due to conflict between remnants of terrorist groups and Philippine security forces in Marawi," the advisory stated.
American travelers are also urged to reconsider travel to other areas in Mindanao due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest and kidnapping.
"The Philippine government has declared martial law throughout the Mindanao region. The Philippine government also maintains a state of emergency and greater police presence in the Cotabato City area, and in the Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces," it added.
US citizens traveling to the Philippines are likewise warned about the measles outbreak in the country.
"Philippine authorities have reported deaths in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Davao. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has additional information on the outbreak," it added.
Aside from the Philippines, the State Department said the following 34 countries travel advisories have been updated to include the "K" indicator for the risk of kidnapping and/or hostage-taking:
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Papua New Guinea
Trinidad and Tobago
Ukraine (in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine)
Travel advisories are issued for every country around the world, offering standardized levels of advice based on established risk indicators such as crime, terrorism, civil unrest, natural disasters, health, and other potential risks, the US State Department said.