MANILA - (UPDATE) The United Kingdom on Monday warned its citizens against traveling to Mindanao because of terrorist activity and clashes between state troops and insurgent groups.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) cited the blast at a shopping mall in Cotabato City that left 2 people dead and 34 others injured
"Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines, including in Manila. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at any time and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship," the advisory said.
Islamic State-inspired terrorists could be responsible for the explosion, the Philippine military had said.
Martial rule remains in place in Mindanao until the end of 2019 to quell terrorist threats. President Rodrigo Duterte first declared martial law in May 2017 after terrorists laid siege to Marawi City.
The United Kingdom also issued a travel advisory, except for essential travel, to the south of Cebu due to threat of terrorism.
"Terrorist groups continue to plan kidnap operations against western nationals in the Philippines. This threat extends throughout the Philippines, both on land and at sea, but is particularly acute in the southern Philippines (Mindanao, Palawan and central Visayas, including Siquijor and Dumaguete)," it added.
The United Kingdom also cited the report of American authorities that highlighted "poor aviation security" at the capital's main airport.
"Additional security measures are in place on flights departing from this airport to the UK. You should co-operate fully with security officials. The UK keeps aviation security measures under constant review, in conjunction with international partners and the aviation industry," the advisory said.
The United States Transportation Security Administration recommends the installation of new x-ray machines, walk-through metal detectors, and alarm systems at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The United Kingdom said that some 154,000 British nationals have visited the Philippines in 2015.
"Most visits are trouble-free," it said.