State Dept. warns of travel to Niger

Jan. 13, 2011 at 1:55 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department warned U.S. citizens about the risks of traveling to Niger, urging caution because of increased kidnapping threats.

The terrorist group al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb still attempts to kidnap Western citizens, including Americans, in Niger, and has been successful in kidnapping Europeans in the region, the department said Thursday in a release.

The State Department noted that this month two French nationals kidnapped were found dead less than 24 hours later. Because of the continued security threats and in light of the Jan. 7 kidnapping of the French nationals, the U.S. Embassy in Niamey increased its security posture and is temporarily suspending travel outside the Niger capital by U.S. government officials until further notice. In addition, the U.S. Embassy imposed a curfew and urged U.S. citizens in Niger to heighten their vigilance against potential harm.

If travel to Niger is necessary, the State Department urged travelers to alert diplomatic officials of the trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which provides up-to-date safety and security announcements and provides an emergency contact opportunity for friends and family.

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