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France is 6th country to issue terror alert for the Philippines
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11/05/2010 01:56 AM
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France joins U.S. in warning about possible terror attack in the Philippines
Amid government efforts to downplay the terror alert issued by five countries, another country, France, has warned its nationals against possible terror attacks in the Philippines.
France on Friday (Manila time) warned its nationals of a “risk of terrorist attack" in the “entire territory of the Philippines," particularly in urban areas.
“Risk of terrorist attack exists on the entire territory of the Philippines, particularly in urban areas (airports, shopping centers, places of worship, hotels and places frequented by foreigners, etc.)," said an English translation of the November 4 (France time) travel advisory.
France said Islamist movements, including the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, remain active in Mindanao.
Criminal groups also engage in kidnapping and extortion in the area, and these groups are also likely to act far from their bases throughout the country, it added.
On the other hand, France said general crime and kidnappings "are rising each year throughout the Philippines at the approaching holiday season and during this period."
At least five countries – United States, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia – already warned their nationals against possible terrorist attacks on the Philippines.
The warnings came a week after a foiled terrorist attack on the US.
No adequate basis
But President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III maintained on Friday that there is no adequate basis to the travel advisories that have been issued by the six countries.
"We've been communicating with the embassies since yesterday, probably earlier than that. We will communicate the same with France," Aquino said in an ambush interview in Malacañang.
"Perhaps we should communicate in the most diplomatic way possible that there is an urgent request from our country not to be inflicted this harm if the basis isn't that concrete," he said.
On Thursday, Aquino said reports on possible terror threats in the country were "blown out of proportion" because the travel advisories were likely based on "raw" data that still had to be validated.
Aquino maintained this on Friday, saying that the supposed threat against two ambassadors and certain security officials was not consistent with the actions of the terror group from which the threat supposedly comes from.
The president said he may raise the terror issue with concerned leaders during during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Japan that he will attend next week [Obama is attending].
Also on Friday, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the advisories had a negative effect on Philippine tourism and economy.
He said the foreign governments' advisories were meant to keep their citizens from suing them if something happened to them while they are in the Philippines.
"We'll be asking them if they can downgrade the alert level, ang warning, ang advisories.
It is disturbing that there are advisories against us that are based on unverified intelligence information," he added.
Travel in Mindanao
In warning its nationals against travelling to Mindanao, France cited the bombing of a bus in North Cotabato on October 21, where at least 10 people were killed.
It strongly discouraged travel in the following areas:
Sulu Archipelago (islands of Jolo and Tawi-Tawi);
Zamboanga Peninsula (the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay);
Lanao del Sur;
Lanao del Norte;
South Cotabato (except the city of General Santos), and
France also warned that guerrillas of the New Peoples Army (NPA) are present over much of the territory, particularly in Northern and Central Luzon, Samar, Leyte, Masbate, Negros and Mindoro.
[link to www.gmanews.tv]
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