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Travel warning on Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka this week declared a state of emergency
Sri Lanka this week declared a state of emergency

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CANBERRA, Australia (Reuters) -- Australians warned its citizens on Friday to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings in Sri Lanka following political tensions that have threatened the country's peace.

Australia's foreign office advised its citizens to exercise a high level of caution in Sri Lanka and closely monitor developments that might affect their safety.

"Australians should be alert to the possible outbreak of political or communal violence, avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings, and fully observe curfews," the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an updated travel advisory.

Citing security concerns, Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga sacked three cabinet ministers, suspended parliament and declared a state of emergency this week while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was in the United States.

The crisis was expected to come to a head on Friday with Wickremesinghe due to arrive home.

"The possibility of further terrorist activity and unrest still exists, despite the ceasefire agreement signed in February 2002 between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam," Australia's travel advisory warned.

Australia has also issued its first travel warnings about New Zealand and the Netherlands, warning people to be on the lookout for pickpockets in both countries and be aware New Zealand is in a seismic zone and prone to earthquakes.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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