The U.S. State Department has alerted U.S. citizens to the potential for unrest in Bahrain. In a Travel Alert update issued on Tuesday, it said all travelers to Bahrain face increased scrutiny from national authorities, and the Government of Bahrain has refused to allow some U.S. citizens permission to enter the country. The airport remains open and operational.
Spontaneous and at times violent anti-government demonstrations occur in some neighborhoods, particularly at night and on weekends. These demonstrations have included blockades of major highways with burning debris and establishment of unofficial checkpoints. The Ministry of Interior maintains official checkpoints in some areas and routinely uses tear gas and stun grenades along with birdshot and other crowd control measures against demonstrators. Violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators can make travel in and around Bahrain dangerous.
There have been no direct attacks on U.S. citizens; however, isolated instances of Westerners and U.S. citizens getting caught in the middle of clashes have occurred and there have been examples of anti-U.S. sentiment seen on the streets, with U.S. flags having occasionally been burned during demonstrations. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security by knowing the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, and the U.S. Embassy. The Department of State strongly urged U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse. Those who are in immediate danger have been advised to call the police at 999.
The U.S. Embassy restricts its employees from traveling to specific areas and advises all U.S. citizens to do the same. U.S. citizens have been urged to stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. The State Department's Demonstration Notices provide information on demonstrations, security guidance, and a map outlining areas that are off-limits to Embassy U.S. citizen employees and their family members.
by RTT Staff Writer
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