US asks citizens to avoid traveling to Egypt

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 30 (PTI) The US today asked itscitizens to avoid travelling to Egypt and authorised voluntarydeparture of dependents and non-emergency employees of itsmission in the country as anti-government protests enteredtheir sixth day.

A travel alert issued by the State Department, amidstgrowing protest by pro-democracy forces in the country, askedits nationals to leave Egypt as soon as possible.

"US citizens currently in Egypt should considerleaving as soon as they can safely do so," it said.

"Demonstrations have degenerated on several occasionsinto violent clashes between police and protesters, resultingin injuries and extensive property damage," the travel alertsaid.

"While demonstrations have not been directed towardWesterners, US citizens are urged to remain alert to localsecurity developments and to be vigilant regarding theirpersonal security," it said.

It strongly urged its citizens to avoid alldemonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly becomeunruly and a foreigner could become a target of harassment.

"If caught unexpectedly near a demonstration, UScitizens should obey instructions from police and leave thearea as quickly as possible," it said.

US citizens resident in Egypt should monitor localnews broadcasts and American visitors should ask tour guidesand hotel officials about any planned demonstrations in thelocations they plan to visit.

"US citizens should carry identification and a cellphone which works in Egypt," said the travel alert.

Mass protests against Hosni Mubarak entered a sixthday today, and continued unabated even after the Presidentsacked his cabinet and appointed a Vice President.

The unrest has so far claimed 150 lives in majorEgyptian cities, and looting and arson has been witnessed insome places.

Earlier in the day, the South Korean Embassy in Egyptalso asked its citizens to leave the country because of theongoing protests.

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