News Watch

Due to recent armed conflicts, kidnappings, armed robberies and the continued presence of Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Department of State recommends avoiding all travel to northern Mali.

Areas of particular concern include the Mali-Niger and Mali-Algeria borders, the Kidal region and areas north of Timbuktu. 

Those traveling in Egypt’s northern Sinai, north of the Cairo-Nekhl-Taba road, should be aware of tensions there between Bedouins and Egyptian security forces.

Protesting mistreatment by the police, the Bedouins have demonstrated regularly over the last couple of years, and on Nov. 11, 2008, when a local was shot and killed by a policeman, violent clashes broke out, 80 policemen were temporarily abducted and three more Bedouins were killed.

The Department of State reported that the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, killed 170 persons (including six Americans and 16 other non-Indians) and injured 300. It adds that public places frequented by Westerners may be targeted in the future.

The US Mission is concerned that increased political tension between Pakistan and India may further complicate travel in areas near their already-sensitive border.

Travelers should factor in extra time for increased...


After the death of the president of Guinea, General Lansana Conte, on Dec. 23, a military junta of young army officers staged a successful bloodless coup. They promised to fight corruption and graft, improve living conditions and in two years hold free elections. A 32-man council was appointed, with mostly military representatives but also six civilians.

During the last two years of the president Conte’s 24-year presidency, there were frequent strikes, riots and street protests over...


In Thailand, on Dec. 2 the court banned the prime minister from politics for five years, over election fraud, and disbanded his governing party. On Dec. 3 the protesters who had blocked traffic at Bangkok’s airports since Nov. 25 left. Other protesters who had occupied the prime minister’s office for three months had left on Nov. 30.

The King endorsed the new prime minister and government on Dec. 16 after elections on Dec. 14. At press time, opposing parties had not yet sorted out...


About 21,000 ships a year cross the Gulf of Aden, where there has been a sharp increase in pirate attacks on cargo ships plus four attempts on passenger ships recently.

In April 2008, the luxury yacht Le Ponant was taken. No passengers were aboard; the crew was held hostage until ransomed. On Nov. 30, Oceania Cruises’ M/S Nautica was attacked but outran the small boats. On Dec. 3, M/V Athena, owned by Classic International Cruises of Australia, was surrounded by small boats, but the...


As ITN went to press, the State Department had travel warnings on 28 destinations: Sri Lanka, Côte d’Ivoire, Georgia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Chad, Kenya, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Israel/West Bank/Gaza, Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Algeria, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Haiti, Burundi, Syria, Central African Republic and Philippines.

For details, call the State Department at 202/647-5225 or visit


A coordinated attack by a terrorist group at seven sites in Mumbai, India, beginning Nov. 26 left 195 people dead, including 22 foreigners, and more than 300 wounded. Ten gunmen opened fire indiscriminately and threw grenades at the luxury Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi/Trident hotels as well as at other hotels, a Jewish community center, a rail station, a hospital, a restaurant and other sites.

The crisis continued until Nov. 29, when government troops routed out the last of the gunmen...