US warns citizens not to travel to Pakistan

September 20, 2012


Protestors chant slogans during a demonstration in Karachi, Pakistan on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. — Photo by AP

WASHINGTON: The United States warned its citizens Thursday to avoid travel to Pakistan amid ongoing protests in the country against a US-made anti-Islam film.

The warning from the State Department updates an August 27 advisory, which warned of the “risks of travel to Pakistan” but stopped short of recommending Americans avoid traveling there.

The warnings highlight protests and political rallies against the US, Nato and its ISAF force, drone strikes, and Pakistan’s ongoing energy crisis.

Over the past week, there have been dozens of protests around Pakistan against the low-budget film “Innocence of Muslims”, killing at least two people. And for the first time on Thursday, protests in the capital turned violent.

Police fired tear gas and live rounds as the protesters, chanting “We are ready to die to safeguard the Prophet’s honour,” tried to break through a barrier of truck containers set up to block access to Islamabad’s heavily guarded diplomatic enclave.

The area is home to most Western embassies, including the US, British and French missions.

The crudely made film mocking Islam has triggered protests in at least 20 countries since excerpts were posted online, and more than 30 people have been killed in violence linked to the clips.

Earlier this week, the US ordered non-essential diplomatic staff and their relatives to leave Sudan and Tunisia following violent anti-American protests sparked by the film.

The State Department has also updated its travel warnings for Algeria and Lebanon in the last week.