State Department Issues Worldwide Travel Alert

It is based on the chocolate shop hostage incident in Sydney, Australia, on Dec. 15.

The U.S. State Department's new worldwide travel alert for U.S. citizens traveling abroad is based on the Dec. 15 hostage situation in a Lindt Café chocolate shop in Sydney, Australia, in which gunman Man Haron Monis killed two people, Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson. The alert, dated Dec. 19, says that event "is a reminder that U.S. citizens should be extra cautious, maintain a very high level of vigilance, and take appropriate steps to enhance their personal security."

It says, "An analysis of past attacks and threat reporting strongly suggests a focus by terrorists not only on the targeting of U.S. government facilities but also on hotels, shopping areas, places of worship, and schools, among other targets, during or coinciding with this holiday period. U.S. citizens abroad should be mindful that terrorist groups and those inspired by them can pose unpredictable threats in public venues. U.S. citizens should remain alert to local conditions and for signs of danger. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

"Up-to-date information on travel and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays)."

The travel alert will expire March 19, 2015.

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