October 5, 2016
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan because of continued instability and threats by terrorist organizations against U.S. citizens. This replaces the Travel Warning issued June 22, 2016.
Travel to all areas of Afghanistan remains unsafe due to the ongoing risk of kidnapping, hostage taking, military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between political and tribal groups, militant attacks, direct and indirect fire, suicide bombings, and insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne or other improvised explosive devices (IED). Attacks may also target official Afghan and U.S. government convoys and compounds, foreign embassies, military installations, commercial entities, non-governmental organization (NGO) offices, restaurants, hotels, airports, and educational centers.
Extremists associated with various Taliban networks, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (ISKP), and members of other armed opposition groups are active throughout the country. ISKP has shown its operational capability, having attacked both Afghan and foreign government facilities. The Taliban and its affiliates routinely attack Afghan, Coalition and U.S. targets with little regard for civilian casualties. In April 2016, insurgents conducted a complex attack targeting the Afghan Department of High Protection headquarters in Kabul, killing 47 people and wounding over 200. In July 2016, two ISKP suicide bombers detonated explosives during a peaceful public march, killing 81 people. In August 2016 insurgents attacked the American University in Afghanistan (AUAF) in Kabul, killing 12 and trapping students, faculty, and staff on campus for hours. Also in August, an American and an Australian professor at AUAF were reported to be kidnapped at gunpoint. In September, Taliban insurgents killed over 40 people in a combined improvised explosive device (IED) and suicide bomber attack near the Afghan Ministry of Defense. That same day, Taliban insurgents later carried out a complex attack in the vicinity of NGO offices in Kabul.
There have been attacks on Coalition convoys in Kabul using vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) targeting U.S. citizens, such as the May 25, 2016, attack on a NATO convoy and the kidnapping of an Australian NGO worker in Jalalabad in April. Additionally, a U.S citizen journalist working for National Public Radio and his translator were killed when the Afghan army unit they were traveling with came under attack in Helmand Province in June 2016, and in August 2016, insurgents fired a rocket at a bus reportedly carrying EU and U.S. citizen tourists in Herat Province, injuring 6 people.
Due to security concerns, unofficial travel to Afghanistan by U.S. government employees and their family members is restricted and requires prior approval from the Department of State. Furthermore, U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to all locations in Kabul except the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities unless there is a compelling government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk.
Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Afghanistan, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR). For further background information regarding FAA flight advisories and prohibitions for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely limited, particularly outside of Kabul. U.S. citizens are encouraged to defer non-essential travel within Afghanistan and note that evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns.
For further information:
- Enroll in STEP to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy, located at Great Massoud Road (also known as Bibi Mahru or Airport Road) between Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) and the Ministry of Public Health. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy can be reached at 301-490-1042, ext. 8499 from the United States, or +93(0) 70-011-4000 from abroad during business hours, Sunday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Kabul time. For after-hours, truly exigent emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please contact the Embassy Duty Officer at +93-(0)70-011-4000. Any routine consular correspondence relating to services for U.S. citizens may be sent to KabulACS@state.gov.
- 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).