JEDDAH: The Saudi Embassy in Manila on Thursday warned its citizens against visiting public places in the Philippines.
In a statement, it also advised Saudi tourists to take caution when visiting the country.
“Given the current security situation in Marawi (in the southern) Philippines, and the frequent events of other areas in the Philippines and threats by terrorist groups targeting foreign tourists, the embassy recommends that its dear citizens in the Philippines avoid public places, take caution, act calmly and contact the embassy through the emergency number for Saudi affairs,” the statement said.
Baker Atyani, a veteran journalist who has covered militant groups for two decades, said he thinks the advisory is in response to a leaked memo on social media.
“It seems the leaked memo by the Philippines National Police (PNP) that was all over social media last week about an alleged plan by the Maute Group and other Daesh-linked groups to launch attacks in Manila has led some foreign missions to advise their citizens in the Philippines to be cautious and avoid public places,” he told Arab News.
“We know that the PNP in Manila said the leaked memo was yet to be confirmed, and denied any intelligence about an existing threat in Manila,” Atyani added.
“But I think with the continuation of the military operation in Marawi, we shouldn’t rule out that Daesh-linked fighters might try to carry out attacks outside Marawi and Mindanao.”
Nearly 400 people have been killed in the month-long battle in Marawi, on the Philippines’ southernmost island Mindanao, which is roughly the size of South Korea and where more than 20 percent of the population are Muslims.