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Nepal Public Announcement

Issued by US Department of State

May 17, 2002

This Public Announcement is being issued to alert American citizens to possible heightened risks to American citizens and American interests in Nepal, especially outside the Kathmandu Valley, from the Maoist insurgency. It also reminds Americans of the dangers associated with periodic bandhs (strikes). This supersedes the Public Announcement for Nepal issued on April 19, 2002. It expires on September 15, 2002.

Recent reports of threats against and robberies of American trekkers, property destruction suffered by two businesses with an American affiliation, and increased anti-American rhetoric by the Maoist leadership indicate an increased risk to Americans in Nepal, particularly outside the Kathmandu Valley.

Americans who decide to travel outside the Valley are strongly urged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for the most recent security information before undertaking such travel. The security situation in Nepal may change with little notice. Maoist destruction of telephone service to most trekking areas complicates efforts to locate Americans and to make arrangements for emergency medical evacuations.

Maoist violence throughout Nepal has increased over the past several months. In 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 carried out a nightly rash of bombings and other acts of violence throughout the Kathmandu area prior to a bandh they called in April. While no tourists were attacked, the dangers of Americans being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time have increased, particularly in the periods leading up to bandhs.

Outside the Kathmandu Valley, the Maoists ramped up violence and other acts of intimidation in the period prior to the April strike, and 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 cancellation of one of the announced April bandhs, private buses 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 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. 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 a bandh period. It is possible that taxis, buses and other forms of public transportation may not operate during a bandh. Americans planning travel in, to or from Nepal should consider changing their travel schedules to avoid arrival and/or departure dates during scheduled bandhs as transportation to and from airports throughout Nepal may be affected. As always, Americans in Nepal should avoid any demonstrations and closely monitor the situation.

For further information on travel to Nepal, please consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet on Nepal at http://travel.state.gov and the American Embassy in Nepal's home page at http://www.south-asia.com/USA. Americans living in or visiting Nepal are strongly urged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Nepal and obtain updated information on travel and security within Nepal. The U.S. Embassy is located at Pani Pokhari in Kathmandu, telephone (977) (1) 411179; fax (977) (1) 419963. U.S. citizens may also register by e-mail by accessing the Embassy's home page.

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