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Nepal Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Apr 22, 2002

This Public Announcement is being issued to alert American citizens to an increase in Maoist violence, including within Kathmandu itself, during the lead up to their call for bandhs (general strikes). This Public Announcement supersedes the information provided in the Public Announcement for Nepal issued on March 22, 2002. It expires on July 18, 2002.

Maoist violence throughout Nepal has increased over the past several months. In some areas outside the Kathmandu Valley, the situation is tense and uncertain, with armed conflicts between the Maoists and government security forces occurring sporadically and unpredictably. Several recent incidents of violence have occurred on main highways outside the Kathmandu Valley, including the roads linking Kathmandu with the Tibetan and Indian borders and the tourist destinations of Pokhara and Chitwan National Park. Following a strategy of instilling fear in the populace to force compliance with their announced bandhs, the Maoists have recently begun carrying out a nightly rash of bombings and other acts of violence throughout the Kathmandu area. While no tourists have been attacked to date, the dangers of Americans being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time have increased in the periods leading up to bandhs.

Outside the Kathmandu Valley, the Maoists are ramping up violence and other acts of intimidation in the period prior to the scheduled bandh while the armed conflict between Maoist and Government of Nepal forces continues to intensify. A number of explosive devices directed against official Government of Nepal vehicles have been detonated on main roads. Despite official cancellation of the previously scheduled April 2 - 6 bandh dates, private busses operating outside the Kathmandu Valley during that period were stopped, torched and their drivers beaten. Americans are strongly urged to limit road travel outside the Kathmandu Valley from during the days leading up to and during any scheduled bandhs.

While popular support for bandhs has been waning, Maoist insurgents have resorted to increasingly brutal acts of intimidation to enforce compliance. In the past, bandhs have resulted in the shutdown of businesses, schools, offices and vehicular traffic, causing mainly inconvenience to the lives of Nepali residents and Western travelers. Vehicles belonging to the Government of Nepal have been attacked with petrol bombs, reinforcing the threat that civilian vehicles that defy the bandh may be subject to attack as well. American citizens are urged to carefully evaluate the movement of traffic on the streets before undertaking travel and to maintain a low profile throughout the bandh period. It is possible that taxis, busses and other forms of public transportation may not operate during a bandh. As always, Americans in Nepal should avoid any demonstrations and closely monitor the situation.

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