Foreign travel advice

Afghanistan

Terrorism

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, and those working in the humanitarian and reconstruction fields. There is a threat from high-profile, large-scale attacks in Kabul. On 27 September 2017, a significant indirect fire (IDF) attack on Hamid Karzai international airport caused its closure for a short while.

Afghanistan-focused insurgents seek the full withdrawal of foreign forces in Afghanistan and the fall of the elected Afghan government. Other groups involved in the insurgency include the Haqqani Network, an Islamist insurgent group whose main goal is to re-establish sharia law in Afghanistan, and are allied with the Taliban. Separate to this, an affiliate of Daesh (formerly known as ISIL) has been active in Afghanistan. The group has conducted several attacks, mainly in the east of Afghanistan. The group also claimed responsibility for a high profile attack in Kabul in July 2016 and for the attack against the military hospital in Kabul in March 2017.

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.

There are large amounts of unexploded bombs and land mines (both anti-tank and anti-personnel) throughout the country.

You should be particularly vigilant 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 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. The British Embassy does not allow official visitors to stay in any hotel overnight, and has placed restaurants off limits to staff.

Kidnap

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.

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.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.