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Somalia Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Aug 03, 2017

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Somalia because of widespread terrorist and criminal activity. Militants associated with both the al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group, al-Shabaab, and the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) operate with relative impunity throughout large parts of the country, including Mogadishu, and attack civilian, military, and government targets. U.S. citizens should be aware that kidnapping, bombings, murder, illegal roadblocks and other violent incidents are common throughout Somalia, including Somaliland. There is no U.S. embassy presence in Somalia. This replaces the Travel Warning dated January 11, 2017.

There is a particular terrorist threat in places where large crowds gather and Westerners frequent, including airports and seaports, government buildings, hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas. Somali government, military, and Western convoys are also regularly targeted for attack. There have been numerous attacks on hotels, restaurants, and the international airport in Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab has repeatedly attacked Mogadishu’s international airport complex with improvised vehicle bombs, mortars, and direct weapons fire. The group has conducted attacks from within the airport’s secure perimeter and detonated an explosive device hidden in a laptop on an airplane shortly after it took off from the airport on February 2, 2016.

ISIS’s demonstrated capabilities in Somalia have steadily increased since rising to public prominence in late 2015. Since that time, adherents based in Puntland claimed credit for a suicide bombing targeting regional security forces at a checkpoint in Bosasso, took responsibility for a raid at a popular hotel in that city, and conducted several other attacks against government officials in Puntland in the months prior. The group briefly occupied the coastal town of Qandala in late 2016.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) containing information on the U.S. prohibition against U.S. civil aviation operations in airspace over Somalia. For further background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

U.S. citizens should avoid sailing near the coast of Somalia due to the risk of pirate attacks. Merchant vessels, fishing boats, and recreational craft all risk seizure and detention by pirates in the waters off the Horn of Africa, especially in the international waters near Somalia. See the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

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