Threat by female suicide bomber: US warns citizens on travel to Pakistan
WASHINGTON: US citizens should obtain Pakistan government’s permission for travel in rural areas of that country, the US State Department said in an updated travel advisory Friday.
The warning came as Pakistani authorities tightened security around the US consulate and other US interests in Karachi this week, following information about a possible attack by a female suicide bomber of Central Asian origin. Karachi, the commercial capital of Pakistan, has been a hotbed of terrorist and sectarian violence for over a decade.
Similar steps to bolster security had been taken around the already well-guarded US embassy in the Pakistani capital Islamabad and other US installations.
The State Department, in the advisory, continued to warn US citizens to defer non-essential travel to Pakistan due to concerns about possible terrorist activity directed against them and US interests.
It said that Al Qaeda and Taliban elements inside Pakistan, particularly along the porous Afghan border region, as well as indigenous sectarian and militant groups in Pakistan posed potential danger to US citizens. Continuing tensions in the Middle East also increased the possibility of violence against Westerners in Pakistan, the advisory said.
With security already tightened at official US facilities, terrorists could attack more vulnerable targets, including facilities where Americans are generally known to congregate or visit, it said.
The US consulates in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar continue to operate at reduced staffing levels.
Family members of official Americans assigned to the embassy in Islamabad and to the three consulates in Pakistan were ordered to leave the country in March 2002 and have not been allowed to return.
Pakistani police and paramilitaries have guarded the US consulate in Karachi round-the-clock since a suicide car blast in 2002, which killed 12 Pakistanis.