Afghanistan will celebrate its liberation from Soviet occupation on Thursday, February 15, which is expected to be declared a public holiday. High-profile gatherings and political speeches will take place across the country, primarily in the capital Kabul, and have the potential to be targeted by terrorist attacks. Traffic restrictions are likely in central Kabul - e.g. in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace, the US Embassy, and diplomatic district in general – that may result in significant congestion.
Kabul has experienced a wave of deadly terrorist attacks in recent weeks and the capital remains on high alert due to extant security threats. On January 29, five gunmen assaulted the the Marshal Fahim National Defense University (military academy) in the PD5 neighborhood’s Qambar Square; at least five soldiers died in the attack, with a further ten wounded, before all the militants were killed. An attack on January 27, in which assailants detonated explosives from inside an ambulance in the vicinity of Sadarat Square and Chicken Street markets, killed over 100 people. At least 22 people were killed in a January 20-21 attack on the Intercontinental Hotel. All three attacks have been claimed by the Taliban.
Due to the heightened security threat, individuals present in Kabul are advised to remain vigilant, closely monitor the security situation, and obey all instructions issued by the local authorities or their home governments.
Due to major security concerns more generally, individuals throughout Afghanistan are urged to keep a safe distance from large gatherings, military convoys, government buildings, and crowded urban areas. Many Western governments advise their citizens against travel to Afghanistan due to the high threat of kidnapping and terrorism, including frequent attacks against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, local civilians and politicians, and individuals working in the humanitarian and reconstruction fields. Travel to the country should only be undertaken with proper security protocols in place.
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