Afghanistan Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Mar 08, 2011
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan. The security threat to all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan remains critical. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Afghanistan issued August 13, 2010, to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security risks, including kidnapping and insurgent attacks.
No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other Western nationals at any time. Remnants of the former Taliban regime and the al-Qa'ida terrorist network, as well as other groups hostile to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) military operations, remain active. There is an ongoing threat to kidnap and assassinate U.S. citizens and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) workers throughout the country. Afghan authorities have a limited ability to maintain order and ensure the security of Afghan citizens and foreign visitors. Travel in all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe due to military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between 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.
In August 2010 a group of doctors, nurses, and medical practitioners, including six U.S. citizens, was shot and killed near their vehicles in Badakhshan province as they completed a medical aid visit to remote areas in nearby Nuristan province. Also in Badakhshan province in spring 2010, a group of U.S. citizen missionaries who were alleged to be proselytizing in the area encountered hostility and required evacuation from the area by the Ministry of Interior and the U.S. Embassy.
In Kandahar, the assassination campaign against government officials, their associates, or anyone notably linked to the government, continues. The number of attacks throughout the south and southeastern areas of the country is growing as a result of insurgent and drug-related activity, and no part of Afghanistan is immune from violence.
Kabul is also considered at high risk for militant attacks, including rocket attacks, vehicle borne IEDs, and suicide bombings. Five United Nations (UN) workers were killed during an attack on a UN guesthouse in Kabul in October 2009. More than 20 attacks were reported in Kabul over the past year, although many additional attacks were thwarted by Afghan and coalition forces. Recent incidents include the bombing of a Kabul supermarket popular with Westerners and an attack on the Kabul City Center complex, which includes a hotel frequented by foreign visitors. Insurgents have also targeted the offices, convoys, and individual implementing partners of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The attack against a Kandahar guesthouse on April 15, 2010, along with the UN attack mentioned above, highlights the growing threat against guesthouses. Buildings or compounds that lack robust security measures in comparison to neighboring facilities may be viewed as targets of opportunity by insurgents.
The Kabul-Jalalabad Road (commonly called Jalalabad Road) and the Kabul to Bagram Road are highly restricted for Embassy employees and, if the security situation warrants, sometimes prohibited completely.
Riots and incidents of civil disturbance can and do occur, often without warning. U.S. citizens should avoid rallies and demonstrations; even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.
Ambushes, robberies, and violent crime remain a problem. U.S. citizens involved in property or business disputes — a common legal problem in Afghanistan — have reported that their adversaries in the disputes have threatened their lives. U.S. citizens who find themselves in such situations should not assume that either local law enforcement or the U.S. Embassy will be able to assist them. From time to time, depending on current security conditions, the U.S. Embassy places areas frequented by foreigners off limits to its personnel. Potential target areas include key national or international government establishments, international organizations and other locations with expatriate personnel, and public areas popular with the expatriate community. Private U.S. citizens are strongly urged to heed these restrictions as well and may obtain the latest information by consulting the embassy website below.
From time to time, depending on current security conditions, the U.S. Embassy places areas frequented by foreigners off limits to its personnel. Potential target areas include key national or international government establishments, international organizations and other locations with expatriate personnel, and public areas popular with the expatriate community such as restaurants. Private U.S. citizens are strongly urged to heed these restrictions as well and may obtain the latest information by consulting the Embassy’s security announcements website.
The U.S. Embassy's ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is limited, particularly for those persons outside the capital. U.S. citizens who choose to visit or remain in Afghanistan despite this Travel Warning are encouraged to enroll with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul through the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to obtain updated information on travel and security within Afghanistan. U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy. Enrolling makes it easier for the Embassy to contact U.S. citizens in case of an 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 or Airport Road) in Kabul. The Embassy phone numbers are 93-(0)700-108-001 and 93-(0)700-108-002. For after-hours, life-or-limb emergencies involving U.S. citizens, the Consular Section can be reached at 93-(0)700-201-908; please direct routine consular correspondence to [email protected]
Current 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 and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information for Afghanistan and the current Worldwide Caution, which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website.