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Violent Crime Swells in Mexico's Sinaloa State : World Travel Watch is a monthly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel. Because conditions can change overnight, always make your own inquiries before you leave home. For more information on safety concerns in countries you may be visiting, contact the Citizens Emergency Center, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520, (202) 647-5225.

March 07, 1993|LARRY HABEGGER and JAMES O'REILLY | Habegger and O'Reilly are San Francisco-based free-lance writers.

Latin America

Mexico: Crime has increased dramatically in Sinaloa, the state on the mainland across the Gulf of California from southern Baja. In January, there were at least six political or drug-related killings, a kidnaping and a shootout between rival drug gangs in the capital city of Culiacan, about 140 miles north of the resort city of Mazatlan. Among the victims were the leader of an opposition party and the Sinaloa coordinator of the Mexican Federation for Human Rights. On Feb. 18, three Americans returning from a fishing trip were attacked near Imala in rural Sinaloa when bandits opened fire on their van without warning. Exercise caution if traveling to Culiacan or rural areas of the state.

Guatemala: Scattered bombings in Guatemala City and attacks on the country's electrical power supply and the telephone system have occurred in the last two months. The bombings caused no injuries but damaged four banks and offices of the ruling party, and knocked out electrical power in much of the country on Feb. 15. The attacks have been attributed to rightists protesting the resumption of peace talks between the government and leftist rebels. Travelers should exercise caution while the talks are in progress, and should stay off the streets of the capital city at night.

Colombia: The U.S. Embassy has declared the Zona Rosa nightclub and hotel district in Bogota off-limits to U.S. government personnel due to terrorist acts perpetrated by cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Other likely targets for bombings are major shopping centers, sporting events and crowded public places. While there is little or no protection against such bombings, travelers should do their best to avoid these areas and should follow local press reports for current security advisories. The State Department urges travelers to avoid travel to Colombia until further notice, stating that with the exception of several popular tourist areas, violence affects a significant portion of the country and has recently increased in the cities of Bogota and Medellin.

Mideast Egypt: Several attacks on tourist buses in the Assiyut region have occurred in the past month despite government attempts to crack down on Muslim militants responsible for the attacks. Exercise caution if traveling to Luxor. On Feb. 4, militants attacked a tourist bus near the Giza pyramids and warned tourists to stay away from the area. Tourists should remain alert at all times when traveling in Egypt.


Kenya: Kenya's first outbreak of yellow fever in 50 years has killed 60 people in recent months in the Kerio area of the Rift Valley province. The World Health Organization is sending 600,000 doses of vaccine to the area to begin an immunization program. There have been no reports of yellow fever in Nairobi. Travelers should be sure that their yellow fever immunizations are up to date. The vaccination is good for 10 years.

Rwanda: Travel to Rwanda should be avoided due to renewed fighting between government forces and rebel troops throughout northern Rwanda. In recent weeks there have also been periodic outbreaks of violence between ethnic groups and political parties throughout the country, and this unrest has led to demonstrations, road blockages and bombings. A 1-5 a.m. curfew is in effect in most of the country. The curfew extends from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the prefectures encompassing Volcano National Park, home of the mountain gorillas. The U.S. Department of State has authorized the voluntary departure of dependents and non-essential employees from the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, and the Embassy reports that the mountain gorillas are no longer accessible to tourists.

Uganda: Travel to Murchison Falls National Park in the northwestern part of the country should be avoided due to ongoing rebel and bandit activity. In recent months there have been two incidents of bandits or rebels attacking tourists at Chobe Lodge in the park. Other areas to be avoided include towns along the Kenya, Sudan and Rwanda borders, the town of Soroti and the area between Soroti and Lira in the northeast, the west Nile region and the town of Arua in the northwest, and the Kasese district in the southwest. Car hijackings are a major problem throughout the country. Many of the country's roads are in poor condition, and travel at night is particularly dangerous. Travelers must show passports and visas at police checkpoints.


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