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Afghanistan Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Aug 02, 2004

This Travel Warning adds information on the threat to U.S. citizens and employees of non-governmental organizations, provides updated information on the security situation in Afghanistan generally, and provides a new phone number for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. The security threat to all American citizens in Afghanistan is critical. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Afghanistan issued February 4, 2004.

The Department of State strongly warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan. There is an ongoing threat to kidnap and assassinate U.S. citizens and non-Governmental organization (NGO) workers throughout the country. The ability of Afghan authorities to maintain order and ensure the security of citizens and visitors is limited. Remnants of the former Taliban regime and the terrorist al-Qaida network, and other groups hostile to the government, remain active. U.S.-led military operations continue. Travel in all areas of Afghanistan, including the capital Kabul, is unsafe due to military operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry among political and tribal groups, and the possibility of terrorist attacks, including attacks using vehicular or other Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The security environment remains volatile and unpredictable.

Presidential elections are scheduled for October 9, 2004. Violent incidents aimed at disrupting the election may escalate as the election date draws closer. There have been several incidents of election violence including an attack on a UN bus carrying Afghan election workers in Jalalabad. That incident resulted in three deaths and ten wounded.

There have been a number of attacks on international organizations, international aid workers, and foreign interests and nationals, including the killing of a United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) worker in Ghazni and car bombing in front of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) compound in Kandahar, both in November 2003, several attacks on International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), resulting in deaths and injuries, including two deadly attacks in late January 2004. The United Nations has resumed operations, which were temporarily suspended in the aftermath of these attacks. However, the UN continues to be the target of attacks throughout the country. In June 2004, a UN and NGO convoy was ambushed in Gardez, a UN demining team was ambushed with rocket propelled grenades (RPGS) in Loghar, and a UNHCR convoy was ambushed with RPGS and small arms fire in Kandahar. Over the past year there have been several unsuccessful rocket attacks in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan, including a rocket landing in a field opposite the Embassy compound in December 2003 and another that landed in the ISAF compound near the Embassy in June 2004, an explosion in the perimeter wall of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on November 22, 2003 and an explosion at the Ministry of Interior on June 5, 200 4.

Family members of official Americans assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul are not allowed to reside in Afghanistan. In addition, unofficial travel to Afghanistan by U.S. Government employees and their family members requires prior approval by the Department of State. From time to time, the U.S. Embassy places areas frequented by foreigners off limits to its personnel depending on current security conditions. Private U.S. citizens are strongly urged to heed these restrictions as well and may obtain the latest =nformation by calling the U.S. Embassy in Kabul or consulting the embassy website below. As stated in the current Worldwide Caution, terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, bombings, rocket attacks, assaults or kidnappings. Possible threats include conventional weapons such as explosive devises or Non-conventional weapons, including chemical or biological agents.

The United States Embassy cannot provide visa services, and its ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is limited. Afghan authorities also can provide only limited assistance to U.S. citizens facing difficulties.

U.S. citizens who choose to visit or remain in Afghanistan despite this Travel Warning are urged to pay close attention to their personal security, and avoid rallies and demonstrations. They are also encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Afghanistan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, you'll make it easier for the Embassy to contact you in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Great Masood Road between Radio Afghanistan and the Ministry of Public Health (the road is also known as Bebe Mahro (Airport) Road), Kabul. Phone number is (93-20) 230-0436. The Embassy website is http://usembassy.state.gov/Afghanistan.

Updated information on travel and security in Afghanistan may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. For further information, please consult the Consular Information sheet for Afghanistan and the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, all of which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov.

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