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EAM to seek clarification from UK

2013 Jul 06

The External Affairs Ministry (EAM) is to seek a clarification from the British High Commission in Colombo regarding a travel advice it had issued in May on Sri Lanka.

An External Affairs Ministry official said that it is aware of the travel advice and will be seeking information from the British High Commission on the reasons behind issuing such a strong notice to British citizens visiting Sri Lanka.

The British Foreign Office has warned visitors to Sri Lanka to be mindful of organised and armed gangs known to operate in Sri Lanka who have been responsible for targeted kidnappings and violence.

The Foreign office, in a May 30th update, says while violent crimes against foreigners are infrequent, there have been an increasing number of reports of sexual offences including on minors.

It also says women should take particular care when travelling alone or in small groups, and carry a personal alarm.

“Organised and armed gangs are known to operate in Sri Lanka and have been responsible for targeted kidnappings and violence. While there is no evidence to suggest that British nationals are at particular risk, gangs have been known to operate in tourist areas. A British national was killed during a violent attack by a gang in a tourist resort in December 2011,” the travel advice said.

Just this week the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka had been summoned by the External Affairs Ministry to seek a clarification on a travel note issued by the US State Department also in May to US citizens visiting Sri Lanka.

The US State Department had, in the travel note, cautioned it’s citizens when visiting Sri Lanka of crimes targeting foreigners.

As was first reported in the Colombo Gazette on Saturday, the travel information for US citizens visiting Sri Lanka said that while most violent crime occur within the local community reports of violent crime and sexual assaults directed at foreigners have been increasing in recent months.

It further adds that organized and armed gangs are known to operate in Sri Lanka and have been responsible for targeted kidnappings and violence, although there is no evidence to suggest that U.S. citizens are at particular risk.

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