US issues travel ban to Zamboanga due to MNLF siege

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THE EMBASSY of the United States in Manila has advised US citizens against traveling to Zamboanga following the attack by members of the Moro National Liberation Front early morning Monday.

The travel ban cited the “ongoing clashes between Philippine security forces and armed insurgents of the MNLF.”

“We have no information at this time whether the clashes will expand to neighboring areas, nor how long they may continue,” the advisory said. “The Embassy has heard no reports of violence in neighboring Basilan province, but urges US citizens to exercise caution and remain vigilant regarding their personal security situation.”

The Embassy also asked US citizens currently in Zamboanga to “shelter in place to avoid becoming involved in the fighting or should follow any instructions from local authorities regarding evacuation.”

Colonel Adrelino Colina, head of TF Zamboanga, in a radio interview said, there were no movements from the side of the MNLF.

“There is an observed stalemate on the side of the MNLF,” said Colina.

And he added: “Ang kailangan ngayon ay pag-uusap (What needs to be done is to talk to them).”

Before this, Misuari declared Mindanao independence last month.

The rebels have reportedly attacked the villages of Barangays Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Tetuan, Talon-Talon, and Mariki in Zamboanga City since early morning Monday.

Reports said they have taken hostage around 200 civilians.

The Monday advisory released at 2 p.m. said the Embassy “wishes to remind all US citizens to remain vigilant and maintain an appropriate level of personal security in all circumstances by reviewing your personal safety plans; remaining aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitoring local news sources for updates.”

The US advisory specifically asked US citizens to be guided by its July 5 travel warning that says: “US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there.” | NewsDesk


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