The U.S. State Department has warned American citizens of the risks of travel in Nigeria in the wake of continued attacks against Western targets in that African country.
In a Travel Warning update on Wednesday, it recommended that U.S. citizens avoid all but essential travel to the states of Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Plateau, Gombe, Yobe, Bauchi, Borno, and Kano because of the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks.
The State Department also warned against travel to the Gulf of Guinea because of the threat of piracy. Violent crime remains a problem throughout the country and is perpetrated by both individuals and gangs, as well as by persons wearing police and military uniforms.
Based on safety and security risk assessments, travel by U.S. officials to all northern Nigerian states, in addition to those already listed, must receive advance clearance by the U.S. Mission as being mission-essential. The Department warned that U.S. citizens should be aware that in the light of continued violence, extremists may expand their operations beyond northern Nigeria to the country's southern states.
A state of emergency is declared in 15 local government areas in the states of Borno, Niger, Plateau, and Yobe, which gives the government sweeping powers to search and arrest without warrants.
Retaliatory violence and protests continue in Kaduna State following a series of church bombings on June 17. In Damatura, Yobe State, Nigerian police and security forces have been fighting members of the extremist group Boko Haram since June 19. The government has imposed a 24-hour curfew for the city of Damaturu and the entire state of Kaduna.
The risk of continued attacks against Western targets in Nigeria remains high. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for several attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria, killing and wounding thousands of people.
The situation in the country remains fluid and unpredictable. The State Department strongly urged U.S. citizens in Nigeria to consider their own personal security and to keep personal safety in the forefront of their planning.
U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Nigeria are strongly advised to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so as to make it easier for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of an emergency.
by RTT Staff Writer
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