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Sri Lanka Travel Warning

Issued by U.S. State Department

Oct 19, 2007

This Travel Warning provides updated security information and alerts American citizens traveling to or living in Sri Lanka about the continuing danger of terrorist actions against military, government, and economic targets in certain areas of the country.   This supersedes the Travel Warning for Sri Lanka dated April 5, 2007.

The Department of State specifically warns Americans against travel to northern and eastern areas of Sri Lanka.

While the government has effectively controlled the eastern part of the country since July 2007, security is not yet assured.  Some LTTE members and larger numbers of armed paramilitary members are active in the area, leading to instability and incidents of violence.  This situation is likely to continue for some time.  Americans are particularly warned against travel to LTTE-controlled areas in the north, which may pose severe hazards.

Official travel by U.S. Government personnel to areas north of a line following the highway from Puttalam through Anuradhapura to Polonaruwa, Bibile, and Pottuvil in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka is restricted, and unofficial travel is prohibited.  In March 2007, the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka sustained a minor injury just after a Sri Lankan military helicopter he was traveling in was attacked shortly after landing at a military base in Batticaloa.  The Ambassador was not the specific target of the LTTE attack.

The Department also alerts American citizens to the dangers posed by recent acts of terrorism throughout Sri Lanka.    Although other parts of the country remain largely unaffected, the LTTE has conducted attacks outside of the northern and eastern areas.  On March 26, 2007, the Katunayake Air Force Base in Colombo came under attack from LTTE aircraft, causing the adjacent Bandaranaike International Airport briefly to curtail operations.  On April 29, 2007, the LTTE attacked two oil facilities in the Colombo area.  On October 15, 2007, the LTTE attacked a Sri Lankan Army camp in Yala National Sanctuary, located in southeastern Sri Lanka.  Foreign tourists were not the objects of these attacks and none were injured.

Although there is no specific indication that American citizens or institutions are targets, there is a general risk of American citizens being victims of violence simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Politically-motivated assassinations have taken place throughout Sri Lanka, including several in the Colombo area.  In many cases, these assassinations involve the use of fragmentation bombs.  American citizens in Sri Lanka should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow good security practices. Americans should avoid large crowds or public gatherings and should particularly stay away from political rallies and military bases in Sri Lanka.

Americans should comply with all instructions from security forces and police when traveling in Sri Lanka.  American citizens, including those of Sri Lankan origin, living in Sri Lanka or traveling there for even a few days are strongly urged to register with the Embassy.  Registration will allow the embassy to provide direct information on the security situation as necessary.  Registration is done on-line and can be done in advance of travel at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/. Information on registering can also be found at the Embassy website: http://srilanka.usembassy.gov or at the Department of State's Consular Affairs website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/registration/registration_1186.html. As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its consular information documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.  In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, outside the U.S. and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

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