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WORLD TRAVEL WATCH

Alert Follows Indictment of Radical Muslim Sheik

September 05, 1993|LARRY HABEGGER and JAMES O'REILLY

Public Advisory

The U.S. State Department is advising Americans traveling and living in the Mideast, Southern Asia and North Africa that the Aug. 25 indictment of radical Muslim Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman by a federal grand jury in New York may precipitate strong reaction among his followers in Egypt and, to varying degrees, among followers in other parts of the Islamic world.Travelers are asked to be alert to continuing developments and to contact the State Department for updates before and during travel to those areas.

Europe

France: Highway robberies have become increasingly common in France, Spain and Italy in recent years, and this summer has been the worst ever in France, according to police in Lyon. Armed robbers have been preying on late-night travelers on the main routes to the Riviera, frequently bumping cars from behind, then robbing the occupants when they stop to inspect the damage. Rest areas are particularly dangerous, especially at night, and should be avoided.

Ireland: The Irish Tourist Board issued a statement Aug. 12 advising visitors to Dublin to take reasonable precautions against street crime. The statement also called for speedier sentencing of muggers, whose sentences are often shortened due to prison overcrowding.

Africa

Kenya: Armed robbers attacked a bus between Lamu Island and the coastal city of Malindi Aug. 15, killing the driver and robbing all 50 passengers after driving the bus into the bush. On Aug. 6, a peaceful demonstration on Lamu was brutally broken up by police, causing tourists to flee. In Nairobi, students rioted on Aug. 10, protesting cuts in living allowances. These incidents are indicative of tensions that exist throughout the country. Exercise caution.

Nigeria: Travel to Nigeria should be avoided due to ongoing political tension. On Aug. 26, a day before he had agreed to step down in favor of a civilian government, military dictator Ibrahim Babangida resigned and established an interim government controlled by the military. Further unrest is considered likely.

Rwanda: Following nearly three years of civil war, peace is returning to Rwanda. The curfew in the Rwandan capital of Kigali has been lifted and roadblocks were ordered removed from all but the three northern provinces where most of the fighting took place. Travel to the three provinces of Byumba, Ruhengeri and Gisenyi should be undertaken with caution.

Asia

India: Troubles continue in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, where on Aug. 3, Indian police fired on thousands of people demonstrating in Srinagar over the killing of a family by a member of the Indian border police. It was the third consecutive day that thousands of residents of the city defied a curfew imposed after the incident. Avoid travel to the region of Kashmir.

South America

Venezuela: The government is struggling with a budget crisis and has been trying to cut salaries of public servants by 10%, but intends to raise salaries for lower-ranking military officers and soldiers by as much as 50% in January. The move is an attempt to appease soldiers who are reportedly still restive following two coup attempts last year. The political situation is tenuous. Travelers should follow local press reports for current information, and travel with caution.

Habegger and O'Reilly are free-lance writers based in San Francisco.

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.

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