The US State Department has issued a new travel warning, urging citizens to ‘carefully consider’ travel due to the increased risk of terror attacks by Daesh.
From the US State Department website –
Saudi Arabia Travel Warning
The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens carefully consider the risks of travel to Saudi Arabia due to continuing ISIL (Da’esh) directed or inspired attacks across the Kingdom. Furthermore, continuing violence in neighboring countries such as Yemen has a high potential to spill over into Saudi Arabia. This replaces the Travel Warning issued April 11, 2016.
Security threats continue. Terrorist groups, some affiliated with ISIL or Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have targeted both Saudi and Western interests, including the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah, mosques and significant religious sites (both Sunni and Shia), and places where members of the Shia-Muslim minority gather. Possible targets include mosques, pilgrimage locations, and Saudi government facilities, as well as housing compounds, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, international schools, Western consulates and embassies, and other facilities where Westerners congregate.
Over the past year, there have been multiple attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia, some resulting in significant loss of life. On July 4, 2016 suicide bombers launched attacks near:
- U.S. Consulate General Jeddah
- the Prophet’s Mosque (also known as Al-Masjid an-Nabawi) in Medina
- a mosque in Qatif
On February 8, 2016, ISIL claimed responsibility for an explosion targeting a Saudi citizen in the Al-Azizia district of Riyadh. Media reports indicate that Saudi authorities thwarted plans to attack the Al-Janadriah festival in Riyadh, which took place in February 2016. In January 2016 a Shia mosque in Al-Ahsa in Eastern Province was attacked, as was a Shia mosque in Najran in October 2015. On October 16, 2015, a mass shooting took place at a gathering in Saihat. On August 6, 2015, a mosque in the city of Abha was bombed. Most of the victims in that attack were members of the Saudi security forces.
U.S. government personnel and their families are restricted from travel in the following areas:
- within 50 miles of the Yemeni border
- the city of Jizan
- the city of Najran
- Qatif in the Eastern Province and its suburbs, including Awamiyah
- Hofuf and its suburbs in the Al Hasa Governorate
Read the Department of State Travel Warning for Yemen before considering travel near the Yemeni frontier. Violence sometimes spills across the border at unpredictable times and locations. The U.S. embassy remains concerned about the possibility of violence and military activity near the border with Yemen. Boundaries in some areas are not clearly defined.
If you travel despite U.S. government concerns, be aware that, in addition to border attacks noted above, terrorist and criminal elements may also be operating, including AQAP.
Select hotels or housing compounds with careful attention to security measures and location. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and keep a low profile. Vary times and routes of travel. Exercise caution while driving, and entering or exiting vehicles. Ensure that travel documents and visas are current and valid.
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