This Public Announcement is being issued to advise U.S. citizens of continuing security concerns in Laos. It supersedes the October 21, 2004, public announcement for Laos and will expire on July 30, 2005.
Since 2000, there have been periodic attacks on markets, bus stations, all forms of ground transportation, border checkpoints and other public places. Between February 2003 and November 2004, small-scale bombings occurred throughout Laos. Between February 2003 and April 2004 armed attacks on buses and other vehicles on Route 13 (Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang) and Route 7 (junction Route 13 to Phonsavan) killed at least 12 persons. In addition, several incidents of small-scale clashes between suspected anti-government insurgents and Lao security forces occurred in the Route 13 corridor area in late 2003 and early 2004.
In light of these incidents and threat information, the Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Laos exercise extreme caution in public places and be alert to theirsurroundings, since the locations of future incidents are unpredictable. In particular, the U.S. Embassy does not recommend traveling by road between Vang Vieng and Luang Phrabang and on Route 7 from the Route 13 junction to Phonsavan town and in surrounding areas.
After some attacks, the Lao Government has been known to shut down telecommunications and stop all transport on main roads for up to several days. Travelers should comply with requests to stop at checkpoints and roadblocks. U.S. citizens, especially those considering travel outside urban centers, are advised to contact relevant Lao Government offices, such as Lao Immigration Police Headquarters in Vientiane, local police and customs offices, or the U.S. Embassy for the most current security information. To avoid trouble with the authorities, U.S. citizens traveling outside of normal tourist areas or contemplating any unusual activity (including, but not limited to, engaging in business, extensive photography, or scientific research of any kind) should consider seeking advance permission from the Village Chief, District Head, Provincial Governor, or National Tourism Authority, as appropriate.