US warns citizens against travelling to Pakistan

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 3 (PTI) The US has warned its nationalsagainst travelling to Pakistan, saying that the presence ofal-Qaeda, Taliban elements and indigenous militant sectariangroups in the country posed a potential danger to them.

Noting that Pakistan government has heightened securitymeasures, particularly in major cities, it said there wereindications that terror groups continued to seek opportunitiesto attack locations where US citizens and Westerners wereknown to congregate or visit, such as shopping areas, hotels,clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools or outdoorrecreation events.

"Terrorists have disguised themselves as Pakistanisecurity forces personnel to gain access to targeted areas.

Some media reports have recently falsely identifiedUS diplomats � and to a lesser extent US and other Westernjournalists and NGO workers � as being intelligence operativesor private security personnel," it said in a travel alertyesterday.

According to the travel alert, visits by US governmentpersonnel to Peshawar and Karachi were limited, and movementsby those assigned to the Consulates General in those citieswere severely restricted.

US officials in Lahore and Islamabad were instructed torestrict the frequency and minimise the duration of trips topublic markets, restaurants and other locations. Only alimited number of official visitors were placed in hotels, andfor limited stays, it said.

"US citizens in Pakistan are strongly urged to avoidhotels that do not apply stringent security measures and tomaintain good situational awareness, particularly whenvisiting locations frequented by Westerners," the travel alertsaid, adding that US citizens throughout Pakistan had alsobeen kidnapped for ransom or personal reasons.

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