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Americans warned against traveling to Sudan

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Citing "indications of terrorist threats aimed at American and Western interests in Sudan," the State Department Friday warned Americans against traveling there.

Re-issuing an earlier travel warning, the State Department said potential actions could include suicide operations, bombings, or kidnappings.

"U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, which include tourist sites and locations where westerners are known to congregate, and commercial operations associated with U.S. or western interests," the advisory said, adding that terrorists could turn to softer targets, such as residential compounds, because security at official U.S. facilities remains high.

The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum was closed this week because of the threat of a possible al Qaeda attack against American interests in the country. U.S. officials have repeatedly warned of possible terrorist activities in northern Africa targeting U.S. interests.

The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum had been closed since 1996, but reopened about a year ago in response to ongoing Sudanese support in the war on terror and the emergence of peace talks between the Khartoum government and rebels in the south. The embassy is run by a charge d'affaires.

The travel warning noted that while fighting resulting from the 20-year civil war has diminished, Sudanese government forces, the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA), and various militias in the southern part of the country have not signed an agreement, and some violence continues.

There have been demonstrations in recent months in Khartoum against U.S. foreign policy, and in some instances, demonstrators have thrown rocks at Westerners and the U.S. embassy.

At least one American relief worker has been beaten and falsely accused of espionage, and other Americans have been held hostage, the warning said, adding that travel into opposition-held areas of Sudan requires a specific travel permit from the SPLA or other rebel movements controlling the territory.

The travel warning urges all Americans in Sudan to "maintain a low profile, and to avoid large gatherings of foreigners which may attract attention."

"There are no consular officers resident in Sudan," the advisory said. "Although a U.S. consular officer makes periodic visits to Sudan, the officer's ability to provide consular services, including emergency assistance, is severely limited."

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