Tourists Cautioned About Unrest in Nepal After Royal Killings

Edward Wright is a former assistant foreign editor at The Times. His column appears monthly.

Nepal: This Himalayan kingdom has been destabilized by the slayings of its king and queen and several other members of the royal family by Crown Prince Dipendra, who then fatally wounded himself.

The State Department "strongly recommends" that Americans put off traveling there for the time being, and Britain has issued a similar warning to its citizens.

Some American tour groups have canceled mountain climbing treks in the Himalayas in Nepal, although the Nepalese government, which depends heavily on tourism, insists that foreign visitors should not feel threatened.

Nepalese officials maintain that the country will be back to normal by the fall trekking season.

Riots broke out in the capital city of Katmandu after the crowning of the new king earlier this month; at least two people died.

The State Department notice, effective until Sept. 6, advises that the instability here may continue through the traditional mourning period, which will last until mid-July.

Philippines

Recent security incidents have prompted the State Department to issue a fresh caution to travelers, effective until Dec. 6:

* Three Americans were among 20 tourists taken hostage late last month by terrorists in the southern Philippines. The captors later said they had killed one of the three, a man from Corona, Calif. The fate of the hostages was not known at press time.

Because of "this ongoing terrorist campaign of kidnapping foreigners," the State Department says, Americans "should exercise extreme caution when considering travel to resorts in the Philippines."

* A group of off-duty U.S. Navy personnel and their guides were fired on earlier this month while hiking on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo. Visitors should avoid this area.

* Because of violence in these areas, Americans are warned to avoid all travel to the island of Mindanao, including the city of Zamboanga, and should also avoid the islands of Basilan, Tawitawi and Jolo in the Sulu archipelago.

Worldwide

Citing new information that Americans abroad may be the target of terrorism, the State Department has issued another broad warning to travelers, effective until Aug. 29.

The perceived threat, similar to many earlier ones, originates with extremist groups with links to Afghan-based terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

These groups in the past "have not distinguished between official and civilian targets."

On May 29, four of Bin Laden's followers were convicted of the 1998 terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa that left 224 people dead.

Americans traveling abroad should "take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness," the State Department advises. Caution is advised especially at bus stops and other public areas.

In any country, travelers may contact the nearest United States embassy or consulate for up-to-date security information.

Laos

Armed gangs have broken into more than 30 homes of foreign residents in the last three months, according to diplomats quoted in media reports from Vientiane, the capital.

Some attacks have resulted in physical and sexual assaults. Those targeted have included diplomats from the United States and Japan and staff members of United Nations organizations.

The State Department's standing consular information sheet on Laos notes that although the country has a low rate of violent crime, Vientiane has seen a recent increase in break-ins and assaults.

Additional grounds for caution: Public transportation is unreliable. Also, foreigners are not permitted to invite Lao nationals of the opposite sex to their hotel rooms.

Briefly . . .

Venezuela: Foreigners who insult Venezuela, its people or its government will be expelled, President Hugo Chavez told listeners at a business forum earlier this month. Some business and opposition leaders reacted with dismay, but others expressed doubt that the president would follow through with his threat....Costa Rica: A 21-year-old University of Kansas student was found slain last month, four days after she arrived in Costa Rica on a research project. The woman's body was found near an airstrip in Golfito, 185 miles southeast of San Jose. She had been seen leaving a bar in Golfito with a companion late the previous night.... Britain: Rioting attributed to ethnic tension erupted in two cities in northern England this month. The most serious was in Oldham, where white separatist groups were accused of stirring up trouble that led to three nights of rioting. A week later in Leeds, several hundred South Asian youths, apparently reacting to the arrest of a Bangladeshi man, battled police and set dozens of cars afire.... Macedonia: With intensified violence between government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels, the State Department has upgraded its earlier cautions to a long-term travel warning, urging Americans "to defer all nonessential travel" to the former Yugoslav republic.... Honduras: The governor of Cortes province on the Atlantic coast, an area popular for its beach resorts, has warned swimmers that they can be arrested for wearing "provocative" swimsuits." People will be prohibited from wearing skimpy suits.

Hot spots: After a five-month absence, the State Department has restored the Central African Republic to its list of places considered risky for Americans.

Others on the travel warning list: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Colombia, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Yemen and Yugoslavia.

FOR THE RECORD Los Angeles Times Sunday June 24, 2001 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 2 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction Travel Advisory--A story in today's Travel section says that a State Department warning on Nepal "strongly recommends" that Americans delay travel there. The warning, which was to have been in effect until Sept. 6, was canceled Wednesday after the Travel section went to press. For The Record Los Angeles Times Sunday July 1, 2001 Home Edition Travel Part L Page 6 Travel Desk 2 inches; 46 words Type of Material: Correction Travel Advisory: A June 24 story ("Tourists Cautioned About Unrest in Nepal After Royal Killings") said that a State Department warning on Nepal "strongly recommends" that Americans delay travel there. The warning, which was to have been in effect until Sept. 6, was canceled last week after the Travel section went to press.
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