Laos Public Announcement 0

Issued by US Department of State

Oct 26, 2004

This Public Announcement is being issued to advise U.S. citizens of continuing security concerns in Laos, which may be heightened due to the ASEAN Summit Conference that will take place November 25-30, 2004, in Vientiane. This Public Announcement supercedes the July 9, 2004, public announcement for Laos and expires on November 30, 2004.

The U.S. Embassy in Vientiane has received information that during the ASEAN summit conference, persons associated with anti-Lao government groups may be planning to detonate several explosive devices in Vientiane as well as in the following provinces of Laos: Bolikhamxai, Khammouan, Savannakhet, Salavan and Champassak. No further information is available at this time regarding specific targets or methods. In addition, travel between locations may be difficult. There may also be difficulties obtaining visas on arrival at the Wattay Airport and at the Friendship Bridge border crossing from Thailand during this time frame.

Since 2000, there have been periodic attacks on markets, two bus stations, all forms of ground transportation, border checkpoints and other public places. Between February 2003 and June 2004, bombings occurred in Vientiane, Savannakhet and other cities and provinces throughout Laos (Xieng Khouang, Sayabury, Houaphan, Saysomboun). Between February and April 2004 armed attacks on buses and other vehicles on Route 13 (Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang) and Route 7 (junction Route 13 to Phonsavan) killed at least 12 persons. In addition, several incidents of small-scale clashes between suspected anti-government insurgents and Lao security forces occurred in the Route 13 corridor area in late 2003 and early 2004.

In light of these incidents and threat information, the Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Laos exercise extreme caution in public places and be alert to their surroundings, since the locations of future incidents is unpredictable. In particular, U.S. citizens should continue to avoid traveling by road between Vang Vieng and Luang Phrabang and on Route 7 from the Route 13 junction to Phonsavan town and in surrounding areas.

After some attacks, the Lao government has been known to shut down telecommunications and stop all transport on main roads for up to several days. Travelers should comply with requests to stop at checkpoints and roadblocks. U.S. citizens, especially those considering travel outside urban centers, are advised to contact relevant Lao government offices, such as Lao Immigration Police Headquarters in Vientiane, local police and customs offices, or the U.S. Embassy for the most current security information. To avoid trouble with the authorities, U.S. citizens traveling outside of normal tourist areas or contemplating any unusual activity (including, but not limited to, engaging in business, extensive photography, or scientific research of any kind) should consider seeking advance permission from the Village Chief, District Head, Provincial Governor, or National Tourism Authority, as appropriate.

U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Laos, and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, located at http://travel.state.gov. For further information, U.S. citizens may also contact the Department of State toll-free at 1-888-407-4747, or, if calling from overseas, 317-472-2328. The U.S. Embassy is located at Thanon Bartholonie (near Tat Dam), in Vientiane; from the U.S., mail may be addressed to U.S. Embassy Vientiane, Box V, APO AP 96546; Telephone (856-21) 212-581, 212-582, 212-585; duty officer emergency cellular telephone (856-20) 5502-016; consular section fax number (856-21) 251-624; embassy-wide fax number (856-21) 212-584; internet: http://usembassy.state.gov/laos, e-mail: consularvienti@state.gov.

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