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Travel Advisory

IRA Sets Off More Bombs

February 25, 1996|EDWARD WRIGHT | Wright is a former assistant foreign editor at The Times. His column appears monthly


Britain: Renewing its terrorist campaign after a 16-month halt, the Irish Republican Party set off two bombs and planted a third in London in a 10-day period, killing three people and marring the British capital's image as a safe city. The first bomb exploded in a redeveloped office area called the Docklands on Feb. 9, killing two people and injuring several dozen. The second blast occurred last Sunday night, tearing apart one of London's distinctive double-decker buses in the Strand, a popular area of restaurants and pubs, and killing one person--possibly the bomber. On Feb. 15, police deactivated a bomb found in a phone booth in the theater district. Although the State Department rates the British Isles as "politically stable," there are occasional terrorist incidents, and they can be indiscriminate.

South America

Brazil: Crime has surged in Brasilia, the capital, according to the American Embassy there. The increase is particularly notable in the Lago Sul neighborhood, where diplomats and expatriates live and where there has been a rash of robberies, thefts and carjackings. Many residents, distrustful of local police, have turned to private security firms. Security--and the police response--has also become the No. 1 concern in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's main tourist city, after an increase in drug-related killings, bank robberies and kidnappings. A human rights group accused Rio police of routinely torturing and killing crime suspects and slum dwellers. A report from the New York-based Human Rights Watch/Americas says the police are guilty of abusive searches, arbitrary detentions and perpetrating two massacres in which 27 people died.


China: Tourists have long felt safe roaming China, but several incidents reported by the Associated Press in recent months suggest an increased need for caution:

* A French woman traveling alone was found strangled on Mt. Taishan, a popular tourist spot.

* A German tourist was wounded by a knife on Tian An Men Square in the center of Beijing.

Although Chinese cities remain safer than many others, the U.S. State Department notes that the crime rate has risen in the past few years. A huge black market in weapons is flourishing, thefts in public places are becoming common, and foreign students say that because of muggings and assaults they have become more cautious about riding buses and taxis.


Hot spots: Reflecting the peace agreement in the Balkans, the State Department has dropped Serbia and Montenegro, as well as Croatia, from its list of places where Americans are warned not to travel. Citing an "unstable security situation," it has restored the travel warning on Tajikistan. Also on the list are Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Colombia, Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan.

Briefly . . .

Mexico: A 59-year-old German woman was found stabbed to death in her hotel room in the resort city of Acapulco. The manager of the Panoramic hotel told the Reuters news service that robbery was apparently not a motive, since the woman's jewelry was untouched.

Philippines: The Federal Aviation Administration has reevaluated Manila International Airport and found its security satisfactory, Reuters said. After the terrorist bombing of a Philippine Airlines plane, U.S. officials had given the Philippines six months to upgrade security or lose U.S. landing rights.

Guatemala: Insurgents blocked a section of the Pan American Highway about 50 miles from Guatemala City last month. For two hours, the stranded motorists heard lectures about the rebels' desire for a fair peace agreement. There was no violence in the roadblock.

Thailand: A Buddhist monk who murdered a female British backpacker was sentenced to death. The now-defrocked monk, who admitted to a drug habit, told the court that the woman was viewing a temple and some caves west of Bangkok, near the Burmese border, when he killed her and stole her belongings.

Sri Lanka: Colombo, the capital, was rocked by a terrorist bomb that tore through the financial district, killing at least 81 people and injuring nearly 1,400. Although Tamil guerrillas have threatened to kill tourists and other foreigners, the country continues to attract some visitors.

Belize: Several recent incidents were reported by the U.S. Embassy: Armed bandits raided a remote resort and robbed many American guests; the homes of four Peace Corps volunteers were burglarized; and a female American tourist was robbed by Belizeans who had "befriended" her.

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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