U.S. WARNS TRAVELLERS TO THE PHILIPPINES  

Washington, March 8, 2003 -- The State Department urged Americans traveling to or residing in the Philippines to exercise great caution and maintain heightened security awareness.

It based the warning on a number of security-related incidents and the possibility of future terrorism, kidnappings and other violence or criminal activity.

In a statement Friday, the Department said extremist groups in Southeast Asia, such as the al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist network Jemaah Islamiyah, have demonstrated transnational capabilities to carry out attacks against locations where Westerners congregate.

"Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets," the statement said.

A bomb exploded Tuesday at the international airport in Davao, on Mindanao island, killing at least 20 people, including one American, and injuring over 140 others. Another bomb exploded shortly thereafter in Tagum, about 20 miles north of Davao, injuring several people. Yesterday, another bob strapped to a motorbike went off in Cotabato City, killing the bike's rider and injuring several bystanders.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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