The Philippines Today
Anyone with any interest with visiting or living in the Philippines is surely tuned into the risks to foreign visitors here. Recently, and although President Duterte has vowed to crush radical terrorism here, it seems that the terror threat may be actually growing. For the first time in many years, elements of terror organizations have moved north into the Central Philippines, specifically the Central Visayas. While there have been vague government warnings of radical Islamists showing up in this region, the U.S. Government has finally expanded the threat to Americans northward into this region. Typically the U.S. Embassy has a standing warning to its citizens for many areas of Mindanao, including and extending into the Sulu Archipelago. Just recently though, the U.S. Embassy has issued warnings to include the Central Visayas, specifically the islands of Cebu and Bohol.
For many foreigners who live here in the islands, Embassy warnings from their home countries have always been taken with a grain of salt while most of us remain aware of these situations and the surroundings. Most of us live with this measured and accepted risk. The kidnappings and later beheadings of foreigners from Samal Island last year should be a stark reminder that the threat remains real.
Just last week, the Abu Sayyef militant who was directly involved in the kidnapping and beheading of Canadian and German nationals on Samal Island was killed a firefight with the Philippines Army during a thwarted hostage taking expedition, this taking place on the island of Bohol. Read another article here.
(A link to the latest U.S. Embassy warning for the Central Visayas is located at the end of this post.)
The following was taken from Rappler.com
Published 2:03 PM, April 11, 2017
Updated 8:50 PM, April 11, 2017
9 killed as gov’t forces foil Abu Sayyaf attack in Bohol
(4th UPDATE) 3 soldiers, a cop, and at least 5 of the armed men are killed in clashes that started at 5 am on Tuesday, April 11
MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – The military and the police on Tuesday, April 11, exchanged gunfire with “heavily armed lawless elements” in Bohol. They are believed to be members of local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
Three soldiers, a cop, and at least 5 of the armed men were killed in the clashes that started at 5 am on Tuesday, according to a joint statement issued by the police and the military.
“Tactical victories have been accomplished, with 5 body counts and a number of high-powered firearms recovered as of 1 pm today…. Four of our brave troops, however, made the supreme sacrifice of giving their lives during the course of the operation,” reads the statement signed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Central Command chief Lieutenant General Oscar Lactao and police regional director Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño.
Residents on Tuesday morning alerted the police of the presence of 3 pump-boats along the riverside of Sitio Ilaya of Barangay Ilaya in Inabanga town.
The encounter comes a week after the government downplayed a travel warning from the US embassy which discouraged its citizens from visiting Bohol and neighboring Cebu.
“We want to congratulate our people in Bohol… The government security forces simply reinforced the vigilance of the Boholanos who organized themselves into a strong force to keep the province safe from any threat groups,” the joint statement added.
The first clash occurred at 5:20 am. At about 7 am, AFP chief General Eduardo Año announced that the armed group was “well armed with heavy caliber weapons” but have already been cornered in “an isolated section of the sitio.”
Año also announced that they had boosted the presence of local police and the military, deploying additional ground troops as well as sea and air assets to repel the armed group.
Later on Tuesday morning, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa told reporters that a soldier was the first casualty of the clashes against the suspected Abu Sayyaf members.
Colonel Edgard Arevalo of the military’s Public Affairs Office also confirmed this.
The clashes were reportedly over by 1 pm. Four government forces and 5 of the armed men were killed. The military began clearing operations.
The Abu Sayyaf Group is notorious for its kidnap-for-ransom activities. It is also known to conduct operations in the waters of the southern Philippines, but Dela Rosa said the police had earlier gotten raw reports of kidnap threats in Central Visayas.
Here is the latest U.S. Embassy warning concerning travel to the Central Philippines… Warning issued April 9th, 2017