Afghanistan Travel Warning
Travel in all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe due to military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between political and tribal groups, and the possibility of terrorist attacks, including attacks using vehicular or other IEDs.
WASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2010 -- The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan. The security threat to all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan remains critical. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Afghanistan issued July 23, 2009, to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security risks, including kidnapping, and to include an email address for the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against American and other Western nationals at any time. Remnants of the former Taliban regime and the al-Qa'ida terrorist network, as well as other groups hostile to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)/NATO military operations, remain active. There is an ongoing threat to kidnap and assassinate U.S. citizens and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) workers throughout the country. Afghan authorities have a limited ability to maintain order and ensure the security of Afghan citizens and visitors. Travel in all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe due to military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between political and tribal groups, and the possibility of terrorist attacks, including attacks using vehicular or other improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The security environment remains volatile and unpredictable.
In Kandahar, the assassination of government officials, their associates, or anyone notably linked to the government has become alarming. The number of attacks throughout the south and southeastern areas of the country is growing as a result of insurgent and drug-related activity, and no part of Afghanistan is immune from violence. Kabul is also considered at high risk for militant attacks, including rocket attacks, vehicle borne IEDs, and suicide bombings. More than 20 attacks were reported in Kabul over the past year, although many additional attacks were thwarted by Afghan and coalition forces.
Incidents have occurred with some frequency on the Kabul-Jalalabad Road (commonly called Jalalabad Road) and Kabul to Bagram Road. As a result, these roads are highly restricted for Embassy employees and, if the security situation warrants, sometimes prohibited completely.
Five United Nations (UN) workers were killed during an attack on a UN guesthouse in Kabul in October 2009. Insurgent attacks also resulted in the deaths of several individuals working for U.S. Agency for International Development implementing partners during the week of April 10 – 16, 2010. The attack against a Kandahar guesthouse on April 15, along with the UN attack mentioned above, highlights the growing threat against guesthouses. Buildings or compounds that lack robust security measures in comparison to neighboring facilities may be viewed as targets of opportunity by insurgents.
Riots and incidents of civil disturbance can and do occur, often without warning. U.S. citizens should avoid rallies and demonstrations; even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.
Carjackings, robberies, and violent crime remain a problem. U.S. citizens involved in property disputes -- a common legal problem -- have reported that their adversaries in the disputes have threatened their lives. U.S. citizens who find themselves in such situations cannot assume that either local law enforcement or the U.S. Embassy will be able to assist them.
From time to time, depending on current security conditions, the U.S. Embassy places areas frequented by foreigners off limits to its personnel. Potential target areas include key national or international government establishments, international organizations and other locations with expatriate personnel, and public areas popular with the expatriate community. Private U.S. citizens are strongly urged to heed these restrictions as well and may obtain the latest information by consulting the embassy website below. U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Afghanistan, and the current Worldwide Caution, which are located on the Department’s Internet travel website. American citizens may also obtain updated information on travel and security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from outside the United States and Canada, +1-202-501-4444.
The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is limited, particularly for those persons outside the capital. U.S. citizens who choose to visit or remain in Afghanistan despite this Travel Warning are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul through the State Department's travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Afghanistan. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. Registering makes it easier for the Embassy to contact U.S. citizens in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Great Masood Road between Radio Afghanistan and the Ministry of Public Health (the road is also known as Bebe Mahro or Airport Road), Kabul. The Embassy phone numbers are +93-700-108-001 and +93-700-108-002; the Consular Section can be reached at +93-700-201-908 for after-hours emergencies involving U.S. citizens; email is USConsulKabul@state.gov.