US warns citizens about risks in travelling to Pakistan
Washington: The US has issued a travel warning for its citizens, informing them about a security risk in travelling to Pakistan where the presence of al Qaeda, Taliban and other extremist groups pose a potential danger.
"The presence of al Qaeda, Taliban elements, and indigenous militant sectarian groups poses a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan, especially in the western border regions of the country," the State Department said in a travel warning.
It said threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where US citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit, such as shopping areas, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools, or outdoor recreation events.
It also noted that the Pakistan Government has heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, some of which have been targets of suicide bombings.
In recent incidents, terrorists have disguised themselves as Pakistani security forces personnel to gain access to targeted areas.
"The embassy reiterates its advice to all US citizens to take measures for their safety and security at all times. These measures include maintaining good situational awareness, avoiding crowds, and keeping a low profile," it said.
The warning said some media reports have recently falsely identified US diplomats - and to a lesser extent US journalists and NGO workers - as being intelligence operatives or private security personnel.
US officials in Lahore and Islamabad are instructed to restrict the frequency and to minimise the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other locations.
Visits by US government personnel to Peshawar and Karachi are limited, and movements by the government personnel assigned to the Consulates General in those cities are severely restricted, it said.
Only a limited number of official visitors are placed in hotels, and for limited stays, the State Department said.
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