Criminals or terrorists in nearly three dozen countries have threatened to kidnap or hold people hostage -- or actually done so -- over some kind of ransom demand, and for the first time, the U.S. State Department is noting that risk.
Up until now, U.S. travel advisories have weighed the state of such crises as crime, civil unrest, health or the potential for terrorism to devise level-based threat levels -- the highest of which is Level 4, Do Not Travel -- for other countries. It added a new indicator, "K," to denote the risk of being kidnapped or held hostage -- and assigned it this week to 35 countries across the globe.
These are the 35 countries making the initial list:
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- Pakistan (Balochistan province and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, including the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
- Turkey (areas near the Syria and Iraq borders)
- South Sudan
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (North Kivu and Ituri provinces)
- Cameroon (North, Far North, Northwest and Southwest regions, and parts of East and Adamawa regions)
- Papua New Guinea
- Ukraine (eastern parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts)
- Ethiopia (Somali Regional State)
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Bangladesh (Southeast Bangladesh, including the Chittagong Hill Tracts)
- Russia (the north Caucasus, including Chechnya and Mount Elbrus)
- Algeria (areas near the eastern and southern borders and areas in the Sahara Desert)
- Malaysia (eastern area of Sabah State)
- Angola (urban areas)
The state department says the new category was added as part of an effort to give Americans comprehensive information about travel safety. It came days after the release of a California woman who had been held for a week after being kidnapped by gunmen in a national park in Uganda.