US State Department Issues Travel Advisory for Spain, Warning of Terrorism Threats

Dec 9, 2018

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On Thursday, the US State Department issued a new travel advisory for Spain. In the advisory, the US warns travelers that “terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks” in the country and that:

Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.

This advisory places Spain in the “yellow” category of the State Department’s new four-level color-coded system — classifying the country’s risk as “Level 2: Exercise increased caution.” Other European countries at this level include: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. European countries listed at the lowest threat, Level 1 (“Exercise Normal Precautions”), include Austria, Croatia, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.

Image generated by the US State Department Travel Advisory Map. Note that the Netherlands color coding hasn’t been updated to reflect the recently-increased level.

For those planning to travel to Spain, the State Department says to:

  • Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and crowded public venues.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Spain.
  • Have a contingency plan for emergency situations when traveling abroad. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Although the State Department warns that terrorist groups may be plotting attacks, it notes that “Spain has taken robust actions to guard against terrorist attacks, including arrests of suspected extremists allegedly involved in terrorist plots.”

Spain has experienced a few notable terrorist attacks in the last two decades, the largest of which occurred in 2004 when a series of coordinated bombs were set off on commuter trains, killing 193 and injuring 2,050 more. In 2017, a terrorist drove a van through the crowded streets of Las Ramblas in Barcelona, killing 15 and injuring 131.

No matter where you go when taking an international trip the State Department recommends signing up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The free service allows American travelers to register their trip with local US embassies or consulates abroad. In case of an emergency, the embassy will then be able to contact you.

The State Department also recommends sharing your trip plans — including itinerary and passport information — with family and friends so they can contact the local US diplomatic representation or the State Department in the case of an emergency.

Featured image by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Stringer via Getty Images

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