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U.S. issues travel warning for Algeria

By From Elise Labott
CNN State Department producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Citing security and safety concerns, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Algeria and urged American citizens to avoid commercial airlines if traveling there.

The advisory urges Americans traveling to Algeria to exercise "maximum caution," including staying in internationally-recognized hotels where security is provided.

"U.S. citizens should not move anywhere in Algeria unless accompanied by a known Algerian companion," the advisory warned.

U.S. employees in the country are also operating under strict security precautions. Embassy and all U.S. employees are restricted to the embassy compound or their hotels "except as necessary to conduct official business or limited personal business." In the city's capital Algiers, embassy personnel travel by armored car with accompanying security.

While noting a decrease in terrorist incidents over the last three years, the advisory warned that "unpredictable attacks still occur" in rural villages and roadsides and on public transportation. The warning notes the northern part of the country has seen the most recent terrorist activity.

A State Department official Thursday told CNN the new warning was issued out of fears that terrorists could be aboard commercial flights in and out of the country, which recently resumed after a hiatus during the height of terrorist activity.

The State Department says only one western airline, Italy's Alitalia, operates in Algeria.

Most official travel by U.S. employees and visitors is via chartered aircraft, the statement said. It urged Americans to limit commercial flights, avoid traveling at night and to have local contacts to meet them at the airport.

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