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Travel Advisory : Tour Bus Attacks Renew in Egypt

January 02, 1994|EDWARD WRIGHT | Wright is a former assistant foreign editor at The Times. His column appears monthly.

Africa

Egypt: Terrorists attacked a tour bus in Cairo on Monday, and 16 people were wounded, including eight Austrian tourists, by the gunfire and explosives. A radical Muslim group opposed to Egypt's secular government claimed responsibility. There have been eight such attacks in the past year, leaving seven foreign visitors dead.

Algeria: In response to terrorist murders of foreigners, the U.S. government has stiffened its warning against travel to Algeria, now advising Americans not just to "defer" trips there but to "avoid" going. An organization known as the Armed Islamic Group warned all foreigners to leave Algeria by Dec. 1 or risk "sudden death." A Frenchman, a Briton, a Russian and 12 Croatian and Bosnian technicians have been killed in recent weeks, bringing to 23 the number of foreigners murdered since September. The State Department has suggested that Americans who are already there depart the country, and Times foreign correspondent Kim Murphy reports from Algeria that most foreign embassies and companies are reducing staff and sending family members home.

Latin America

Mexico: In a new report on crime and safety in Mexico, the State Department singles out street crime as the main threat to American visitors in the country's larger cities. The report advises travelers to carry only essential identification and valuables while touring and shopping. Other than street crime, the department notes incidents of narcotics-related terrorist violence in the states of Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua, Nayarit and Jalisco. Robberies by bandits operating mostly after dark are not unusual in some isolated areas. Highway 15 in Sinaloa state and Highway 40 between the city of Durango and the Pacific Coast are considered particularly dangerous.

Nicaragua: The State Department reports an increase in armed banditry in the Nicaraguan countryside, particularly in the north, and an increase in violent crime, especially in Managua, the capital. After dark, all the nation's roads, including the heavily traveled Pan American Highway, should be regarded as hazardous. Although anti-American sentiment is not considered widespread among Nicaraguans, at least two incidents involved Americans who were followed from the international airport and robbed en route to their residences in Managua.

Caribbean

St. Kitts and Nevis: The governor-general of St. Kitts and Nevis imposed a state of emergency and curfew on the two-island country because of violent demonstrations in Basseterre, St. Kitts, the capital, after the Nov. 29 election. At least 18 people were injured, but there were no reports of injury to Americans or other foreigners at tourist hotels on the other side of the main island.

Asia

Thailand: Tourism to this Southeast Asian nation soared during the 1980s, but reported scams and ripoffs have harmed its image. The State Department warns of scams in which tourists are enticed into buying overpriced gems and the Associated Press has reported that many entertainment spots and gem dealers are known for cheating tourists but are allowed by police to continue operating. AP describes a government-sanctioned "two-price" system under which many tourist attractions charge higher admission fees to foreigners than to Thais.

Briefly . . .

Health info: International travelers seeking up-to-date health information on various countries may now call the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta requesting faxed material on 16 regions of the world: current health risks, suggested immunizations, food and water precautions, etc. The service operates 24 hours a day at (404) 332-4565.

Hot spots: The State Department periodically warns against travel to certain countries where Americans might be at risk. Travel warnings are currently in effect for Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Colombia, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, North Korea, Peru, Somalia, Sudan and Tajikistan.

The U.S. State Department offers recorded travel warnings and advisories at (202) 647-5225; the fax line is (202) 647-3000.

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