Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Increased Risk of Terrorist Attack

March 21, 2017

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to far eastern Mauritania due to the activities of terrorist groups including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which are active in the neighboring regions of Mali, and the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS).  The U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott is able to provide only very limited consular services in remote and rural areas of Mauritania.  This replaces the Travel Warning for Mauritania dated February 23, 2016, to update U.S. citizens on the current security situation.

The government of Mauritania has designated the following areas as a restricted Security Zone, and you must have permission from Mauritanian authorities to travel there:

  • The eastern half of the Tagant region (east of Tidjikja)
  • The eastern half of the Adrar region (east of Ouadane)
  • The Zemmour region (other than F’Derick and Zouerat)

Additionally, there is a risk of kidnapping and other violent crime in the Hodh El Charghi region near the southern and eastern border with Mali. Aside from the security risks, these areas are dangerous due to their remoteness and harsh environment.

ISIS, AQIM and al-Murabitun terrorist organizations and affiliates have declared their intention to attack foreign targets in Nnorth and Wwest Africa (particularly the Sahel region south of the Sahara).  In recent years, AQIM has kidnapped and murdered private citizens and attacked foreign diplomatic and gendarme military installations in Mauritania.  Christian faith-based organizations operating in Mauritania, or individuals perceived to be proselytizing, may be targeted.

U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling outside Nouakchott unless specifically authorized to do so, and then only during daylight hours.  Due to an increase in criminal activity, the Embassy has directed its official staff not to walk to or from work; to avoid walking whenever possible; and not to walk alone. Consider these restrictions and review your personal security plans periodically if you are in Mauritania or planning to go there.

For further information:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Mauritania Country Specific Information.
  • 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 Mauritania located between the Presidency and the Spanish Embassy, at + 222 4525-2660, 4525-1145, or 4525-3038, 8:00a.m – 5:00p.m. Monday – Thursday, and 8:00am – 12:00pm on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is (222) 4525-3288.
  • 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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