Americans urged to avoid areas of rioting in France
Americans traveling to France have been urged to avoid areas heavily hit by rioting and refrain from using the public train from Charles de Gaulle Airport to downtown Paris, relying instead on airport buses or taxis, according to an advisory posted on the Web site of the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
“Significant rioting that began in the northern suburbs of Paris [on] Oct. 27 has become extremely violent, as angry protesters set fire to several buildings and hundreds of vehicles,” reads a portion of the posted message at: http://france.usembassy.gov.
“Although the riots have occurred in areas not normally frequented by U.S. tourists, travelers should be aware that train travel from the Charles de Gaulle Airport to the city center may be disrupted at times, as it passes near the affected areas. … Americans should avoid the affected areas that include the northern suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis (Clichy-sous-Bois, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Le Blanc-Mesnil) and also Trappes in the southwest of Paris, and should move quickly away from any demonstrations that they may encounter,” the message reads.
According to news reports, protests have spread throughout France, with more than 4,300 vehicles burned since the outbreak north of Paris. Monday, a 61-year-old man reportedly was beaten to death in rioting in the Paris suburb of Stains, in the region of Seine-Saint Denis, the first fatality, according to police. Cars have been burned in Brussels and Berlin, causing Europeans to worry about copycat violence.
U.S. European Command on Monday disseminated the Embassy message and recommended personnel and families follow the guidance, said spokesman Air Force 1st Lt. Darrick Lee.
“EUCOM and its service component commands will continue to monitor the situation and update its personnel and family members as necessary,” he said in an e-mail message. “As always, personnel and family members are advised to take appropriate cautions when traveling. EUCOM has not issued any additional or supplemental guidance.”
Navy Europe officials routinely review State Department advisories and notify personnel if threats target U.S. personnel, spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Lisa Braun said.
“As in any situation, personnel are reminded to not approach large gatherings and to stay alert to their surroundings,” she said. “Additionally, personnel should contact their command’s force-protection officer for assistance in completing their Individual Force Protection plan when traveling. Awareness of current world events in the locations of travel is an important aspect of maintaining a low profile and a hard target.”
As of Monday, the U.S. State Department had not added France to its list of 27 countries currently tagged with travel warnings and does not immediately intend to do so, spokeswoman Amanda Rogers-Harper said. Travelers should heed the message from the U.S. Embassy in France, she said, and refer to the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, which also as of Monday made no mention of the rioting or unrest.
The State Department issues travel warnings when officials decide to recommend that Americans avoid travel to a certain country, according to the department’s Web site: www.state.gov.
Some USO travel offices have not canceled trips to France. The USO in Kaiserslautern, Germany, for example, still is planning for its Nov. 19 trip to Paris, and the USO in Naples, Italy still is working to drum up interest for a New Year’s Eve trip to the French capital.
Stars and Stripes reporter Scott Schonauer and The Associated Press contributed to this story.