U.S. issues security alert for embassy staff, nationals in Pakistan

   Apr 26, 3:51 pm

Islamabad, April 26 (Xinhua-ANI): The U.S. embassy in Islamabad Thursday issued travel restrictions for U.S. Embassy staff and nationals in Pakistan during the next two weeks.

The alert was issued shortly after the Pakistani Supreme Court convicted Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani over contempt of court charges.

Supporters of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party staged demonstrations in several cities in southern Sindh and central Punjab provinces against the court's verdict.

Firing was also reported on some areas, forcing the people to shut their shops.

The U.S. embassy alert did not mention the Pakistani court's order.

"Due to security concerns, the U.S. Embassy has restricted its employees from going to restaurants and markets in Islamabad April 27 to May 5. We recommend that U.S. citizens in Islamabad during this period take similar precautions," the U.S. embassy said.

Also, based on the current security conditions and a significant increase in the level of sectarian violence in northern Pakistan, the U.S. Embassy has prohibited its employees from taking personal trips to the northern Pakistani cities of Gilgit and Skardu until further notice, the alert said.

The U.S. Mission in Pakistan continues to recommend that U.S. citizens defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan. See the Department of State's current Travel Warning for Pakistan, it said.

The message said the U.S. Mission in Pakistan reiterates its advice to all U.S. citizens to take measures for their safety and security at all time, including practicing good situational awareness, avoiding of crowds, and maintaining a low profile.

"The U.S. Mission in Pakistan reminds U.S. citizens that even peaceful protests may become violent and advises U.S. citizens to avoid protests. U.S. citizens should vary times and routes for all required travel. U.S. citizens should ensure their travel documents and visas are valid at all times."

U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Pakistan have been asked to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), the alert said. (Xinhua-ANI)

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