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Uzbekistan Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Jun 03, 2005

This Travel Warning is being issued to remind U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist actions in Uzbekistan. The Department of State has authorized the departure of non-emergency personnel and all eligible family members of U. S. Embassy personnel and urges all U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to Uzbekistan. This Travel Warning supercedes the Public Announcement of May 27, 2005.

The United States Government has received information that terrorist groups are planning attacks, possibly against U.S. interests, in Uzbekistan in the very near future. Due to the nature of the threat, the Department of State has authorized the departure from Uzbekistan of non-emergency personnel and all eligible family members of the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent. American citizens currently in Uzbekistan should consider departing Uzbekistan via available commercial options.

Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the region. These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may also attempt to target U.S. Government or private interests in Uzbekistan. The Department of State urges Americans in Uzbekistan to exercise extreme caution, including avoiding large crowds, celebrations, and places where Westerners generally congregate. In the past, these groups have been known to conduct kidnappings, assassinations and suicide bombings.

Uzbekistan experienced a wave of terrorist violence in 2004. Three suicide bombings occurred in July 2004 in Tashkent, including one outside the U.S. Embassy. Other targets included the Israeli Embassy and the Uzbekistani Prosecutor General's Office. The Islamic Jihad Union released a statement claiming responsibility for these attacks.

Multiple attacks also occurred in Tashkent and Bukhara in late March and early April 2004. These attacks used suicide bombers, mainly focused at police and Uzbek private and commercial facilities. In late July, approximately 15 people pled guilty in an Uzbekistan court to charges related to the attacks. The Islamic Jihad Union also claimed responsibility for these operations.

In 2003, the U.S. Embassy received information indicating that terrorist groups had planned attacks against hotels in Uzbekistan frequented by Westerners, as well as against other institutions affiliated with or representing foreign interests.

Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists and their sympathizers seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events, and resorts.

In addition, on May 13, armed militants stormed a local prison, released its prisoners, and then took control of the regional administration and other government buildings. By the end of the day fighting broke out between government forces and the militants. There were reports indicating that several hundred civilians died in the ensuing violence. There were no reports of U.S. citizens who were affected by these events.

Although the city is reportedly calm at the present time and all registered American citizens in Andijon have reported with the Embassy, Americans are advised to limit unnecessary travel to the Andijon province due to small pockets of unrest. Some U.S.-sponsored or supported humanitarian organizations have decided at this time not to return to Andijon.

Other U.S. government agencies continue to operate and travel normally throughout the region. According to the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, border crossings and all airports, except in Andijon, are currently open.

The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent continues to employ heightened security precautions. U.S. citizens should report any unusual activity to local authorities and then inform the Embassy.

The Uzbek Government maintains travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya province bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. Foreign citizens intending to travel to this region must obtain a special permission card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs or Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad.

Americans traveling to or remaining in Uzbekistan despite this Travel Warning are strongly urged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Uzbekistan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent may close temporarily for general business from time to time to review its security posture. The U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan is located at 82 Chilanzarskaya St., Tashkent, Uzbekistan 700115. The telephone number is 998-71-120-5450. The fax number is 998-71-120-6335. The website is http://www.usembassy.uz.

Travelers should also consult the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet for Uzbekistan, the Central Asia Regional Public Announcement, and Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or Canada, and 202-501-4444 from overseas.

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