State Dept. updates three travel warnings

WASHINGTON -- The State Department updated its existing, separate travel warnings for the Central African Republic, Togo and Lebanon advising U.S. citizens against visiting those countries.

The department noted that in March 2003, rebel forces seized power in the Central African Republic (CAR) and installed a new leader for the country who remains in power.

According to the warning, Although the country held peaceful elections in March 2005, the situation remains fluid and U.S. citizens who remain in the CAR despite this Travel Warning are urged to exercise caution at public gatherings.

Furthermore, there continue to be reports of armed robberies along roads outside of the capital.

Security remains a challenge in Togo, where recent president elections were held. The results of the election have been strongly contested and have led to violence and protests throughout the country.

Consequently, the department has authorized the departure of nonemergency personnel and all eligible family members of U.S. Embassy personnel. The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Togo, and asks those Americans already in Togo to evaluate carefully their personal security when deciding whether to depart.

Meanwhile, the security situation in Lebanon remains volatile.

The department warning noting that former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated Feb. 14, 2005, in a car-bomb attack in which at least 19 other people were killed and many others were seriously wounded. Syria subsequently pledged to withdraw from Lebanon. Protests related to these events, including against the U.S. Embassy, continue in Beirut and other cities; there remains the potential for violent clashes. In addition, four late-night bombings north of Beirut occurred in March and April, resulting in at least three deaths.

The department advised U.S. citizens in Lebanon to pay close attention to their personal security at locations where Westerners are generally known to congregate, and said they should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.


To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Michael Milligan at [email protected].

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