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Archive for Sunday, October 7, 2001

U.S. officials leave south Philippines

Traveling to region discouraged; Wichitans still held hostage

October 7, 2001

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— The U.S. government has withdrawn officials and contractors from the southern Mindanao region of the Philippines and advised American citizens not to travel there because of increasing terrorist threats.

"Kidnappings of foreigners, bombings, and other violent incidents call for Americans to exercise great caution throughout the Philippines. Moreover, as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, U.S. citizens and interests may be at increased risk of terrorist actions from extremist groups," a State Department travel advisory said Friday.

It cited the kidnapping of three Americans and 17 Filipinos from an upscale resort on May 27 by the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group and another incident in which a group of American Navy personnel and their guides were fired upon by communist rebels on Mount Pinatubo. No one was injured in the shooting.

The Abu Sayyaf say they have killed Guillermo Sobero of Corona, Calif., one of the Americans abducted at the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan province. The group still has U.S. missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham of Wichita.

On Friday, soldiers recovered remains believed to be of Sobero on Basilan Island.

The travel advisory said Abu Sayyaf guerrillas have broadened their area of operations and are able to travel long distances from the southern Philippines, opening other areas in the country to attack.

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