U.S. warns against travel to Algeria

Friday, September 12, 2003

The United States has warned its citizens against traveling to Algeria.

Officials said American nationals could be under threat in the North African country. They said the threat appears greatest outside of major Algerian cities.

Last week, the State Department updated a warning against travel to Algeria. Officials said the warning reflected the conclusion of the Western European hostage crisis in which Islamic insurgents held 32 Austrians, Dutch, German, Swedish and Swiss nationals for nearly six months in the Sahara desert. One of the hostages died in captivity.

The Al Qaida-related Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call took responsibility for the abduction, Middle East Newsline reported. The kidnappers fled to neighboring Mali where they received an estimated 5 million euro ransom for the release of the hostages.

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"The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to defer nonessential travel to Algeria and to evaluate carefully their security and safety if they choose to travel," the State Department said. "Random terrorist attacks still occur in rural and remote areas, on public transportation outside the major cities, and in some parts of the country at night."

The State Department reported an improvement in security around Algiers.

This included a decline in Islamic insurgency attacks in the Algerian capital and the surrounding area.

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