U.S. State Department Issues New Travel Warning for Afghanistan
The U.S. State Department has issued a new warning against travel to Afghanistan to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security risks, including kidnapping and insurgent attacks. According to the government, 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 U.S. and other Western nationals at any time.
Remnants of the former Taliban regime and the al-Qaida terrorist network, as well as other groups hostile to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) military operations, remain active. Afghan authorities have a limited ability to maintain order and ensure the security of Afghan citizens and foreign 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 insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne or other improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The security situation remains volatile and unpredictable throughout the country.
Kabul and its suburbs are also considered at high risk for militant attacks, including rocket attacks, vehicle-borne IEDs, direct-fire attacks and suicide bombings. More than 18 such attacks were reported in Kabul City from January to June 2012, and many additional attacks were thwarted by Afghan and coalition forces. Recent incidents include a suicide attack against the Intercontinental Hotel in June 2011, in which U.S. citizens were critically injured, and an August 2011 attack against the British Council. Insurgents also carried out a complex sustained attack against multiple targets in Kabul on Sept. 13, 2011, which included the U.S. Embassy and ISAF headquarters, and again on April 15, 2012, targeting the U.S. and neighboring embassies as well as ISAF headquarters and the Afghan Parliament. Dozens of Afghans and one U.S. citizen lost their lives in suicide bombings in Kabul, Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif on Dec. 6, 2011 (the Ashura holiday).
Insurgents have also targeted the offices, convoys, and individual implementing partners of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Kabul-Jalalabad Road (commonly called Jalalabad Road) and the Kabul to Bagram Road are highly restricted for Embassy employees. On May 2, 2012, insurgents with vehicle-borne explosives and suicide vests targeted Green Village, a compound on Jalalabad Road in Kabul that houses primarily international security contractors; several guards and local school children were killed at the gates of the compound as a result of explosions. In late October 2011, a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into an armored NATO bus on a busy thoroughfare in Kabul, killing 17 people including U.S. citizen contractors working with the military. On June 22, 2012, insurgents attacked Spozhmai Hotel west of Kabul City. This attack resulted in the deaths of a number of Afghan civilians, and others being taken hostage. No U.S. citizens were involved in this incident.