Be careful, defer travel to Andhra, US tells its citizens
Washington, Dec 30 - The US government has issued a fresh travel alert asking its citizens to be cautious and defer their travel to Andhra Pradesh as violence continues there over the issue of a separate Telangana state.
"The US government continues to receive information that terrorist groups may be planning attacks in India," the State Department said Tuesday in the third travel alert issued since Oct 29. The new alert expires Jan 31.
"Terrorists and their sympathisers have demonstrated their willingness and capability to attack targets where Americans or Westerners are known to congregate or visit," the advisory said while alerting US citizens to continuing security concerns in India.
"In addition, there continues to be a possibility of violence in the south-central Indian state of Andhra Pradesh over the contentious issue of creating a separate state," the State Department said.
"The November 2008 attacks in Mumbai provided a vivid reminder that hotels and other public places are especially attractive targets for terrorist groups," the alert said, asking US citizens to always practice good security, maintain a heightened situational awareness and a low profile.
"Americans are advised to monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places, including religious sites, or choosing hotels, restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues."
The advisory suggested that US citizens defer all non-essential travel to Telangana and certain parts of Hyderabad, especially the assembly and secretariat, Osmania University, Panjagutta, and Ameerpet areas.
There has also been sporadic unrest in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, most notably in the cities of Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Ongole, Kurnool, and Chittoor, it said.
"Andhra Pradesh continues to experience episodic civil unrest as pro- and anti-statehood political groups rally supporters to their respective causes. A number of strikes have shut down schools and businesses, making it at times difficult to obtain essentials such as gasoline," the advisory said.
Protesters have targeted public transport, attacking trains and burning numerous buses. Public transport networks have been forced to shut down several times, it said. (IANS)