WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department Saturday issued travel warnings for Sudan and Tunisia, where it has pulled out all non-essential diplomatic personnel.
In Sudan, the department urged U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the Darfur region, and the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states. Travelers were advised to consider carefully the risks of travel in other parts of the country.
The State Department said on its website that it had ordered the departure of all dependents of U.S. direct hire personnel and all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Sudan, following the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.
"While the government of Sudan has taken some steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, elements of these groups remain in Sudan and have threatened to attack Western interests," the department's statement said. "The terrorist threat level throughout Sudan, and particularly in the Darfur region, remains critical, and the U.S. Embassy has implemented enhanced security measures to protect U.S. government personnel assigned to Sudan."
The department noted violent flare-ups break out quickly between militia groups and Sudanese military forces and there is the threat of Ethiopian gangs crossing the border to rob people.
"In addition, U.S. citizens found in these areas without permission from the government of Sudan face the possibility of detention by government security forces," the department said. "You should avoid all public demonstrations and political rallies, as even demonstrations that seem peaceful can turn confrontational and become violent with little or no notice."
"The threat of violent crime, including kidnappings, armed robberies, home invasions, and carjackings, is particularly high in the Darfur region of Sudan, as the government of Sudan has limited capacity to deter crime in that region. In addition, Janjaweed militia and heavily armed Darfuri rebel groups are known to have carried out criminal attacks against foreigners."
Likewise, the State Department warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Tunisia, noting it had ordered the departure of all non-emergency personnel from Tunisia, following the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunis. The airport in Tunis was open and U.S. citizens were being encouraged to depart by commercial air, the department said.
"U.S. citizens remaining in Tunisia should use extreme caution and avoid demonstrations, make their own contingency emergency plans, enroll their presence in Tunisia through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin or emergency contact information," the department said on its website.