US warns citizens against kidnappings in southern Philippine city

Other News Materials 2 April 2008 09:04 (UTC +04:00)

The US embassy has warned its citizens about a plot by Islamic militants to kidnap foreigners in a southern Philippine city, a notice on its website said Wednesday. ( dpa )

The embassy said it has sent email alerts to its more than 100,000 citizens known to be based in the Philippines about threats by "extremist elements" to abduct foreigners in the port city of Zamboanga and nearby areas, 875 kilometres south of Manila.

"The US embassy has received information that extremist elements may be planning to kidnap Americans or other foreigners at hotels or other public places in the Zamboanga City area," the embassy said in its website.

Zamboanga City is close to Basilan province and Jolo island, known strongholds of the al-Qaeda-linked Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels who have kidnapped foreigners in the past.

The Philippine military has been conducting an offensive against the guerrillas since August last year.

An undetermined number of US troops have been stationed in Zamboanga for the last seven years, training Philippine troops in fighting Abu Sayyaf rebels.

In 2001, the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped 20 people, including three American tourists, in a resort in the western province of Palawan. Two of the American hostages were killed, while the other one survived the ordeal.

In 2000, the bandits kidnapped 21 Western tourist and Asian workers from the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan and held them for months on Jolo. All the hostages were eventually freed after ransom was allegedly paid.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the Philippines. The US has linked the group to the al-Qaeda international terrorist network.