No Pinoy Casualty in Latest Iraq Car Bombing

By Ding Cervantes, The Philippine Star

Posted at 07/20/2015 8:40 AM

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga – Philippine embassy officials in Baghdad, Iraq said yesterday that they have not received any report of Filipino casualties in the car bombing that killed more than a hundred people and injured scores of others in an Iraqi market last Friday.

”The embassy is not aware of any Filipino casualties in the incident,” said embassy charge d’affaires Elmer Cato in response to an emailed query from The STAR.

But Filipinos in Iraq were reminded by the embassy that it would assist those who like to return to the Philippines for free amid security concerns.

This, even as the Philippine embassy reiterated its reminder to Filipinos in Iraq to refrain from making unnecessary travels especially in Baghdad and surrounding areas in the next several days.

“If possible, limit travels beyond home and work only to essential ones, and avoid public places,” the embassy said in an advisory.

Last Friday, a car bomb killed 120 people and injured 130 others in a busy market in Khan Bani Saad, north of Baghdad as residents marked the end of Ramadan.

Islamic State fighters claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The embassy advisory said that Iraq has remained under Alert Level 4 where mandatory evacuation for Filipinos is in effect, the exception being Kurdistan region that is under Alert Level 2 – only travel restriction is advised.

Cato, who is slated to visit Filipinos in Kurdistan on Friday, said there are about 1,200 Filipinos in Baghdad and another 1,000 in Kurdistan.

“There are no new deployments of Filipino workers to Iraq. Only returning workers in Kurdistan with valid contracts could be allowed to work here,” he also said.

The embassy also urged Filipinos in Iraq to register with the embassy so that they could be readily located during any emergency.

Last May 28, Cato himself survived a bomb attack that killed seven persons in a hotel where he was staying just a few days after his arrival for his new assignment at the embassy in Baghdad.

Asked whether he feared for his safety, Cato replied: “What I know is that I cannot let my fear overwhelm me and dictate how I would accomplish what I was sent here to do.”

Earlier, the embassy said the first three of 19 Filipino employees of a Baghdad restaurant were repatriated on Thursday and arrived in Manila last Saturday.

Cato said several other Filipinos working in other establishments in the Iraqi capital have also reached out to request the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs for their repatriation.






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