News Watch

On Aug. 8, Georgian troops entered South Ossetia and the Ab­khazia regions in an attempt to reclaim the regions that broke away from Georgian control after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Although Russia has formally acknowledged the two regions as being independent nations, the rest of the international community has not. Russia sent in troops to reinforce their peacekeeping force, and fighting broke out. 

A cease-fire was agreed to on Aug. 12, and Russian and Georgian...


The Department of State urges travelers in Algeria to evaluate carefully the risks. Terrorist attacks, including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, ambushes and assassinations, occur regularly.

Since June 2008, the Kabylie region has seen a series of bombing and other terrorist attacks of increasing size and frequency, including a suicide car-bomb at a gendarmerie school in Issers on Aug. 19 that killed at least 44 people.

While Algerian security forces have been targeted...


A Spanair Boeing MD-82 jet headed for Las Palmas, Canary Islands, crashed on takeoff from the Madrid airport on Aug. 20, killing 153 people. Nineteen survived. One of the plane’s two engines had caught fire.

It is the worst crash in Spain since 1983, when an Avianca Boeing 747 crashed at the Madrid airport, killing 181.

Armed attacks have occurred on roads that many travelers take from Guatemala City through the Petén region of Guatemala to see the Mayan ruins at Tikal.

Many of the robbery attempts have occurred in daylight hours on main highways. The robbers also have used a section of highway where the paved portion ends and vehicles must slow to drive on gravel. Carjacking incidents and highway robberies often are violent.

Visitors to Tikal are urged to fly to nearby Flores and then travel...


In Spain, in an apparent effort to disrupt the tourism industry, the Basque separatist group ETA phoned in a warning about, and then detonated on Aug. 17, two small bombs at resorts in Costa del Sol. There were no injuries and damage was minor, but 10,000 people were forced to evacuate. A third bomb was defused.

At press time, the Union of Comoros was continuing to experience gasoline and diesel fuel shortages following a July 2008 termination of a sole-source supply contract for the country’s fuel needs.

Street demonstrations protesting the lack of fuel had occurred in the capital of Moroni and on the island of Anjouan. The protests were primarily directed against the Comoran government, but past protests were directed against the French and other Westerners residing in the country.



At press time, the Ministry of Health of Côte d’Ivoire had reported nine cases of yellow fever in Abidjan, five of them confirmed. With that, a mass vaccination campaign was being carried out in August, targeting almost two million people.

In August of this year, as the monsoon season was reaching its peak, the number of reported cases of dengue fever in major tourist areas of Cambodia was half that of last year but still above the average.

High-risk areas for the mosquito-spread disease included Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, site of Angkor Wat.