Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.
Multiple threats are issued daily. Terrorists and insurgents conduct frequent and widespread lethal attacks against Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), domestic and international political and civilian targets including in the Green Zone, and those working in the humanitarian and reconstruction fields. You should note an overall increased threat to Western interests in Kabul, including from high-profile, large-scale attacks.
The insurgency has a strong anti-Western focus; this could make any UK interest or person a target. Attacks include bombs (roadside and other), suicide bombs (either on foot or by vehicle), indirect fire (rockets and mortars), direct fire (shootings and rocket propelled grenades), kidnappings and violent crime. Daesh is also fiercely hostile to the UK and other western countries.
If you decide to travel to Afghanistan, you should read this section in conjunction with the Safety and Security section.
You should be particularly vigilant on public or religious holidays, in and around landmark locations and places where large public crowds can gather. Hotels used by the government of Afghanistan and western nationals, ministries, military establishments, airports (including Kabul International) and religious sites have been attacked and further attacks are possible. Avoid regular visits to public places frequented by foreigners, including hotels, restaurants, shops and market places, especially at times of day when they are particularly busy and congested.
Hotels used by the government of Afghanistan and western nationals, ministries, military establishments and religious sites have also been attacked and further attacks are possible. The British Embassy does not allow official visitors to stay in any hotel overnight, and has placed restaurants off limits to staff. Make sure your accommodation is secure, and review your security measures regularly.
The risk of being kidnapped throughout Afghanistan remains a very high and constant threat. At least four foreign nationals have been kidnapped in Kabul since July 2016, some of whom remain in captivity:
- 6 November 2016 – a foreign national was kidnapped in Kabul
- 8 August 2016 – two foreign nationals were kidnapped in Kabul
- 21 July 2016 – a foreign national was kidnapped in Kabul
Over 100 westerners have been kidnapped in Afghanistan since 2001, a number of them have been British nationals. The motivation and desire to undertake kidnapping in Afghanistan is likely to continue. You should take the utmost care, vary routines and avoid setting regular patterns of movement. You should take professional security advice while in the country.
Those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage-takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.
There’s considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all or all but essential travel to different parts of the country according to provincial region:
The FCO advise against all travel to the Surobi district of Kabul province, and against all but essential travel to the city of Kabul and the other remaining districts of Kabul province.
You should note an overall increased threat to Western interests in Kabul. There’s an ongoing threat from high-profile, large-scale attacks in the capital. Significant attacks in recent years include:
- 8 May 2019 - a complex attack on the NGO Counterpart International in Kabul killed 5 and injured at least 20
- 14 January 2019 - a complex attack on Green Village in Kabul killed at least 4 and injured over 90
- 28 November 2018 - a complex attack on the G4S compound in Kabul, Camp Anjuman, killed at least 10 people, including one British national, and injured at least 35 others
- 20 November 2018 - a suicide attack on a wedding hall in Kabul killed approximately 55 people and injured over 85 others
- 27 January 2018 – at least 105 people were killed and hundreds injured as a result of a large vehicle borne explosive device which detonated in a crowded area of downtown Kabul
- 20 January 2018 – six gunmen carried out an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel killing around 20 including a number of foreign nationals
- 28 December 2017 – two explosions took place targetting the Afghan Voice News Agency in the vicinity of the Tabyan Social Centre. 41 people died in this attack with more than 80 injured
- 31 October 2017 – a suicide bomber successfully detonated close to the British Embassy killing a number of civilians
- 20 October 2017 - an attack on Kabul’s Imam Zamum mosque killed at least 49 mostly Shia worshippers
- 27 September 2017 – around 45 rounds of mortar and rocket fire struck Hamid Karzai International Airport causing the temporary closure of airspace
- 31 May 2017 – at least 80 people were killed and several hundred injured in a large car bomb attack in an area of the city close to many foreign embassies
If you’re travelling in Kabul, take particular care on Airport road, Jalalabad road and Darulaman road. Avoid travelling on Jalalabad and Darulaman roads during commuter or other busy times (around 6am to 8am, 9am to 11am and 3pm to 4pm local time), when traffic can be heaviest and the risk of an attack against government and western people or interests is most likely. Avoid travelling along Airport road except for essential movements as attacks are likely throughout the day.
• the FCO advise against all travel to the provinces of Faryab, Jowzjan, Baghlan, Takhar, Kunduz, Badakhshan, the Sayad district and Sar-e-pul city in Sar-e-pul province and the following districts of Balkh province: Chaharbolak, Chamtal, Daulat Abad/Dawalatabad, Hairatan Port, Kaldar and Shortipa/Shur Tapa/Shor Tepah
• the FCO advise against all but essential travel to Samangan province and the remainder of Balkh and Sar-e-Pul provinces
There have been a number of attacks against aid workers and military vehicles resulting in deaths and injuries, and there are ongoing military operations throughout the north. The FCO advice against all travel to Badakhshan includes travel to or climbing and trekking within the Wakhan Corridor.
On 8 February 2017, six Afghan staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were shot and killed in Jowzjan Province, Afghanistan. Two further staff members travelling in the same convoy are so far unaccounted for.
On 10 November 2016 there was an attack on the German Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif in Balkh province. At least 4 civilians were killed and 120 injured. The Taliban were reported to have claimed responsibility for the attack.
• the FCO advise against all travel to Ghazni, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Paktika, Wardak and Paktya provinces and most districts of Parwan province
• the FCO advise against all but essential travel to Bamiyan, Panjshir and the Shekh Ali and Surkhi Parsa districts of Parwan province
The eastern region has been extremely volatile for some time, with almost daily suicide and roadside bomb attacks, shootings and rocket attacks. The region close to the Pakistani border is extremely dangerous with a high number of insurgents operating freely. On 17 October 2017, four Vehicle Borne explosive devices and twelve insurgents struck the Paktia Police Headquarters, killing 100 ANDSF personnel and injuring over 400.
There are regular, large military operations in this region. There have been numerous daily attacks against the Security Forces and US-led coalition forces. There are also daily incidents of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), suicide and rocket attacks, and direct fire attacks on security forces patrols, checkpoints and bases as well as on the local population.
On 24 January 2018, insurgents attacked the offices of Save the Children in Jalalabad. Up to 13 people were injured in this incident.
• the FCO advise against all travel to Helmand, Kandahar, Nimroz, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces
On 18 October 2017, 58 soldiers were killed and 28 wounded at an Afghan National Army (ANA) base in Maiwand district, Kandahar.
On 10 January 2017, an explosion took place in the Provincial Governor’s compound in Kandahar. The attack left eleven people dead, including the Deputy Provincial Governor, five Emirati diplomats, an Afghan MP and an Afghan official. An attacker also detonated a suicide vest in a guest house in Lashkar Gah used by the provincial National Security Directorate (NDS). Eight people were reportedly killed, including four members of the NDS.
• the FCO advise against all travel to Badghis province, Farah province, the Shindand district of Herat province,the Du Layna/Dolina and Pasaband districts of Ghor province and the Gizab/Gesab and Kajran districts of Daikundi province.
• the FCO advise against all but essential travel to Dai Kundi, Ghor and the remaining districts of Herat and Daikundi provinces.
There have been roadside bombs, suicide attacks, rocket attacks and criminal kidnappings throughout the western provinces and increased lawlessness in Western Ghor. There is little security infrastructure in Dai Kundi and westerners have been kidnapped there.
On 4 August 2016 there was an attack on a convoy of vehicles carrying tourists (including 8 British nationals) in Herat. The group were on a tour organised by a company based in the UK. The Taliban claimed the attack on the vehicle, which involved small arms fire and an explosive device. The convoy was being escorted by the Afghan military. Five tourists and the driver were injured in the attack.