East Africa Public Announcement
Issued by US Department of State
May 05, 2006
This Public Announcement is being re-issued to remind Americans of the continuing potential for terrorist actions against U.S. citizens in East Africa, particularly along the East African coast, and to note the increasing number of incidents of maritime piracy near the Horn of Africa and the southern Red Sea near Yemen. This supersedes the Public Announcement of November 18, 2005, and expires on November 4, 2006.
A small number of Al-Qaida operatives and other extremists are believed to be operating in and around East Africa. Americans considering travel to the region and those already there should review their plans carefully, remain vigilant with regard to their personal security, and exercise caution. Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, kidnappings or targeting maritime vessels. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Increased security at official U.S. facilities has led terrorists to seek softer targets such as hotels and beach resorts. In particular, terrorists may target civil aviation and seaports. Americans in remote areas or border regions where military or police authority is limited or non-existent could also become targets.
Americans considering seaborne travel near the Horn of Africa or in the southern Red Sea should exercise extreme caution, as there have been several dozen incidents of armed attacks, robberies, and kidnappings for ransom at sea by pirates in the past year. Additionally, a number of merchant vessels have been hijacked in Somali territorial waters, but others have been hijacked as far as 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia in international waters. In addition, unidentified assailants used small arms and rocket-propelled grenades in a November 2005 attack on a cruise ship carrying a substantial number of American citizens in international waters off Somalia. Military action by U.S. and allied navies in several subsequent incidents resulted in the capture or death of pirates threatening international commerce. No U.S. citizens were hurt in these attacks; however, these incidents highlight the continuing danger of maritime travel near the Horn of Africa and underscore the need for heightened security when traversing these waters.
The U.S. Government maritime authorities advise mariners to avoid the Port of Mogadishu, and to remain at least 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia. In addition, when transiting around the Horn of Africa or in the Red Sea near Yemen, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys, and maintain good communications contact at all times.
Americans living or traveling in East Africa are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Departments travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov . Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.
U.S. citizens planning to travel to East Africa should consult the Department of State's country-specific Public Announcements, Travel Warnings, Consular Information Sheets, the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement and other information, available at http://travel.state.gov . Up-to-date information on security conditions can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 in the U.S. and for callers outside the U.S. and Canada a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.