The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to southeastern Tunisia along the Libyan border as well as certain mountainous areas in the country’s west, due to the threat of terrorism. This replaces the Travel Warning issued September 29, 2016.
Terrorist attacks have previously targeted Tunisian government and security forces and popular tourist sites. On March 7, 2016, an attack by ISIS-affiliated militants in the southeastern border town of Ben Guerdan resulted in the deaths of 12 Tunisian security officials and civilians. Two attacks in 2015 targeted tourists: the Bardo Museum in Tunis on March 18 and two beach hotels near Sousse on June 26. ISIS claimed responsibility for these attacks. Groups of militants continue to operate in certain mountains of Western Tunisia, including Jebel Chaambi, Sammama, and Selloum. The Tunisian government continues security force operations against Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AAS-T), ISIS, and al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
U.S. Embassy Tunis regulations require advance notification to Embassy security officials of travel by Embassy personnel outside greater Tunis. Certain cities and governorates in Tunisia have a fluid and unpredictable security environment, and these areas require additional scrutiny before U.S. government personnel may travel to them. U.S. citizens should avoid the following areas due to the unpredictable security environment:
- Jendouba south of Ain Drahem and west of RN15, Kef, and Kasserine, next to the Algerian border
- Ben Guerdan and Medenine, next to the Libyan border
- Gafsa and Sidi Bou Zid in central Tunisia
- The desert south of Remada is designated as a military zone by the Government of Tunisia. If travelers wish to enter the military zone, special authorization is required.
On occasion, these travel restrictions prevent the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country.
For your safety:
- Visit the U.S. Embassy website before traveling outside of the capital for more specific guidance and warnings;
- Exercise caution in all parts of Tunisia when frequenting public venues, especially those heavily frequented by tourists, such as hotels, shopping centers, tourist sites, public beaches, and restaurants;
- Exercise caution when using public transportation, due to safety and security concerns;
- Avoid political gatherings, rallies, large crowds and demonstrations, as even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can be unpredictable;
- Be alert to the possibility of kidnapping;
- Monitor local events and take appropriate steps to bolster personal security;
- Remain alert to local security developments, report suspicious activity to the local police, and heed directions given by uniformed security officials;
- Carry a copy of your passport and a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Tunisia.
Government security forces, including the army, police, and National Guard, are visibly present throughout Tunisia. On November 24, 2015, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi issued a State of Emergency, which grants security forces more authority to maintain civil order and enables the government to focus on combating terrorism. The state of emergency is still in effect. The Minister of Interior has said that the state of emergency also assists in securing hotels and tourist areas.
Developments in Libya continue to affect the security situation along the Tunisian-Libyan border in areas such as Ras Jedir and Dehiba along with the cities of Ben Guerdan and Medenine. The Libyan border is frequently closed to all traffic with short notice for extended periods. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and advises those in Libya to depart immediately. Travelers should avoid all travel to and through the Libyan border and should read the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Libya, as well as the Department of State’s Country Specific Information and other international travel safety and security information for Libya and Algeria. The Embassy regularly reviews the security of these areas for possible modification.
For further information:
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Tunisia.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia located at North East Zone Berges du Lac, North of Tunis 2045 La Goulette, at +216 71 107 000, 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +216 71 107 000.
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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