Terrorists are planning to kidnap foreigners in tourist hotspots across the central and western Philippines, Western governments said Wednesday following a foiled abduction attempt by Islamic militants a month ago.
President Rodrigo Duterte said security had been increased on the western island of Palawan, one of the Philippines’ most popular tourist destinations, after the US embassy warned of a kidnapping threat there. “The US Embassy has received credible information that terrorist groups may be planning to conduct kidnapping operations targeting foreign nationals in the areas of Palawan,” it said in a travel advisory.
The embassy identified two locations — the capital city of Puerto Princesa and the nearby underground river that attracts thousands of visitors daily — as areas the kidnappers were targeting. Puerto Princesa is about 400 kms (240 miles) northwest of southern islands that are strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf, militants who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and frequently kidnap foreigners. The Abu Sayyaf last month attempted a kidnapping raid on Bohol island, a popular tourist destination in the central Philippines, but were foiled after authorities became aware of the plot.