The US State Department has advised travelers to “exercise increased caution in Azerbaijan due to the risk of terrorism.”
On 10 January, the State Department launched a new system of travel advisories for American citizens traveling abroad. Azerbaijan has been labeled a “Level 2” country, indicating that travelers should “exercise increased caution” and “be aware of heightened risks to safety and security.”
The advisory goes on to say that “terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Azerbaijan,” and that possible targets include transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, places of worship, government facilities, and other public areas and events.
Travelers are also advised to “avoid demonstrations.”
The advisory also warns travelers not to visit Nagorno-Karabakh “due to armed conflict,” citing “intermittent gunfire and occasional use of artillery systems.”
Chief spokesman for the Azerbaijani Ministry of Internal Affairs, Hikmet Hajiyev, called the advisory “surprising.” “With the exception of the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenian armed forces, the Azerbaijani government is in full control of the country’s security and operational situation,” Hajiyev said.
The State Department’s new travel advisory system uses a four-point system to classify every country according to the level precaution required, from Level 1 (“Exercise Normal Precautions”) to Level 4 (“Do Not Travel”). The nature of the security threats in each country are indicated by letters, such as T (“Terrorism”), U (“Civil Unrest”), or N (“Natural Disaster”).