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The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Somalia because of continuous threats by the al-Qaida affiliated terrorist group, al-Shabaab.
U.S. citizens should also be aware of the risks of kidnappings in all parts of Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland. There is no U.S. embassy presence in Somalia. This replaces the Travel Warning dated October 1, 2015.
The security situation in Somalia remains unstable and dangerous. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia continue to attack Somali authorities, the troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and other non-military targets. Kidnapping, bombings, murder, illegal roadblocks, banditry, and other violent incidents are common throughout Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland. Al-Shabaab remains intent on conducting attacks against popular restaurants, hotels, locations known to be popular with Westerners, and convoys carrying Somali and other government officials. Last year, there were at least eight prominent hotel attacks located in the heart of Mogadishu, the Somali capital. One U.S. citizen was killed during one of these attacks. Munitions caches and unexploded ordnance exist in various parts of the country and remain a danger to civilians.
In addition, al-Shabaab has demonstrated the capability to carry out attacks in government-controlled territories, with particular emphasis on targeting government facilities, foreign delegations' facilities and movements, and commercial establishments frequented by government officials, foreign nationals, and the Somali diaspora. There is a particular threat to foreigners in places where large crowds gather and Westerners frequent, including airports, government buildings, and shopping areas. Inter-clan and inter-factional fighting can flare up with little or no warning.
There are continuing threats of attacks against airports and civil aviation, especially in Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab continues to conduct attacks against the Mogadishu Aden Adde International Airport (MGQ) using mortars and other standoff weapons. The group also has conducted attacks from within the airport’s secure perimeter and successfully detonated an explosive device concealed in a laptop on an airplane shortly after take-off.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) containing information on the U.S. prohibition against U.S. civil aviation operations in airspace over Somalia due to security risks toward civil aviation. For further background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
U.S. citizens are urged to avoid sailing near the coast of Somalia. Merchant vessels, fishing boats, and recreational craft all risk seizure and detention by pirates in the waters off the Horn of Africa, especially in the international waters near Somalia. Pirates and other criminals have specifically targeted and kidnapped foreigners working in Somalia, including two U.S. citizens in the past several years. Consult the Maritime Administration's Horn of Africa Piracy page for information on maritime advisories, self-protection measures, and naval forces in the region.
For further information:
- See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Somalia.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, at telephone (+254) (20) 363-6000, 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is (+254) (20) 363-6000.
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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