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Americans Urged to Keep Low Profile Abroad

July 04, 1993|LARRY HABEGGER and JAMES O'REILLY | Habegger and O'Reilly are San Francisco-based free-lance writers. and


The U.S. State Department is advising Americans traveling abroad this summer to exercise greater than usual caution due to tension following the U.S. military strike on Baghdad and the arrest of eight terrorists in New York in connection with the February bombing of the World Trade Center. Americans need not cease travel, according to a State Department spokeswoman, but should "be more alert" while doing so. She advised keeping abreast of international news, even during travel, not discussing travel plans with unknown individuals and trying to maintain a low profile as Americans, such as not wearing T-shirts imprinted with the names of U.S. universities and sports teams. The advisory does not apply to domestic travel, something over which the State Department has no jurisdicton, she said, nor is it based on any specific foreign or domestic threat. Such an advisory, urging worldwide caution, rather than caution in a specified area, is unusual. The last time one was issued was during the Gulf War.

Corsica: The Corsican National Liberation Front announced June 23 that it was halting its terrorist attacks for the summer. No dates were given for the truce, but the group has honored past promises. It is battling what it considers French colonization through tourism, usually by bombing French property or interests, including a May 26 attack on a travel agency promoting tours to Corsica from France.

Northern Ireland: According to a Reuters report, police in Northern Ireland warned citizens to be on full alert because they believe the IRA may be planning a major bombing blitz following a June 22 car bombing outside a hotel. The IRA is believed to have stockpiled large quantities of bomb-making materials, and officials warn of a serious threat to city and town centers. Exercise caution, and heed any evacuation orders.

Former Soviet Republics

Estonia: A visa is no longer required for a visit up to 90 days. Information can be obtained from the recently opened Estonian Embassy at 1030 15th St. N.W., Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20005, (202) 789-0320, or the Consulate General of Estonia, 630 Fifth Ave., Suite 2415, New York 10111, (212) 247-7634. Travelers planning to enter Russia in transit must obtain a Russian visa. Medical care in Estonia is limited, and there is a severe shortage of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles. Travelers with existing medical problems should be prepared to bring all necessary medications with them. The U.S. Embassy in Tallinn keeps a list of English-speaking physicians in the area.

Azerbaijan: Avoid travel here due to ongoing conflict within the republic. The State Department has ordered the departure of all dependents of embassy personnel, and urges all Americans in the capital city of Baku to depart immediately.


Cambodia: The U.N.-sponsored election in May was deemed free and fair and saw the defeat of the ruling government, but the road to forming a coalition government has been full of pitfalls. First, hardliners in the government refused to accept the results and tried to split off several provinces in the east as a separate nation, then they recanted and returned to the capital city of Phnom Penh to join a government headed by Prince Norodom Sihanouk in coalition with the party that won the election. The State Department advises that travel to Cambodia should be deferred until the political situation sorts itself out.

Pakistan: Travel to the Northwest Frontier and the Khyber Pass should be avoided. The U.S. State Department has prohibited its personnel from traveling overland to this area due to dangerous security conditions that affect foreigners. Large areas within the Northwest Frontier are designated tribal areas and are outside the jurisdiction of government law enforcement. Drug smuggling in the region has increased in recent months, and feuds between smugglers or tribal factions occasionally flare up and can incidentally affect foreigners.

Philippines: An electrical power crisis still plagues the capital city of Manila and the island of Luzon, where equipment breakdowns cause brownouts of up to eight hours a day. Most major hotels, however, have their own generators to assure a steady supply of power.

Turkey: Kurdish separatists fired on a passenger train near the town of Genc in southeastern Turkey wounding six people June 28, one day after bombing a Mediterranean resort hotel in Antalya, injuring at least 12 European tourists and 14 Turks, according to government officials quoted in wire reports. The rebels' leader, Abdullah Ocalan, threatened in May to target tourist sites and make the summer "the bloodiest ever for Turkey." At press time Wednesday, the State Department had not issued any travel advisory for Turkey.


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