Australia updated its travel advice for Colombia Thursday, maintaining its level of alert for the entire country.
The government website smarttraveller.gov.au highlighted the recent bombing of a bus on its way from the Colombian capital Bogota and the city of Villavicencio, but did not change its overall advice on travel.
“Despite improvements in security, we advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Colombia at this time because of the high threat of terrorism and criminal activity. Terrorist, insurgent, paramilitary groups and armed criminal organizations are active throughout Colombia and armed clashes involving security forces and drug traffickers occur frequently. There is a high risk of kidnapping, including of foreigners. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.
Australian travelers in Colombia must maintain a “high degree of caution” in mayor cities like Bogota and Medellin and “reconsider your need to travel” to Colombia’s third largest city, Cali. The government website advises against all traveling to the south and southwest of Colombia and the northeastern Santander and Norte de Santander departments.
In the cities, “violent crime, including robbery, continues to be a serious threat,” said the website. “Foreigners staying in hostels have been the target of robberies and assaults,” the website said, referring to recent hostel attacks in Bogota’s La Candelaria district.
According to the Australian government, “the number of ‘express kidnappings,’ where victims are abducted, often in taxis, and forced to withdraw funds from ATMs before being released, has increased. Victims have been killed or injured while resisting perpetrators.”
Because Australia has no embassy in Colombia, Canberra advises travelers to register their trip and stay in contact the Australian Embassy in Chile.