Security Message for U.S. Citizens – Security Awareness Recommendations in Ouagadougou – August 25, 2017

U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Security Message for U.S. Citizens:

Security Awareness Recommendations in Ouagadougou

August 25, 2017

The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens to take proactive steps to enhance their personal security.  In light of terrorist attacks at downtown public venues such as hotels and cafés in Ouagadougou over the past two years, we urge all U.S. citizens to be vigilant and review our existing Travel Warning dated June 7, 2017, and the Worldwide Caution.

Terrorist groups including JNIM, ISIS, and those inspired by such organizations, are intent on attacking U.S. citizens and Westerners around the world.  Extremists may use conventional or non-conventional weapons to strike U.S. interests, as well as less sophisticated methods of attack to target crowds, including the use of edged weapons, pistols, and vehicles.

Extremists are increasingly assaulting “soft” targets, such as:

  • High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, Holiday events, celebratory gatherings)
  • Hotels, clubs, and restaurants
  • Places of worship
  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Shopping malls and markets
  • Popular tourist locations
  • Public transportation systems
  • Airports

The following recommendations may help you avoid becoming a target of opportunity.  These precautions may provide some degree of protection, and can serve as practical deterrents to would-be terrorists:

Public Venues:

  • When possible, avoid or minimize time spent in the “soft” targets listed above. When in such locations, be alert for suspicious or unusual activity.
  • Recognize that Western-branded venues or Western-like facilities may be attractive targets for terrorists.
  • Report suspicious activities and individuals (e.g., loiterers or potential surveillants) to the local police.
  • Formulate a plan of action of how to respond if a terrorist attack or security incident takes place.
  • Remember the “run, hide, fight” rule during a terrorist attack or similar incident: whenever possible, immediately depart the area; if retreat is not an option, conceal yourself from would-be assailants; as a last resort, and only if necessary, yell and fight off an attacker.

Consider these points while choosing the safest seat:

  • Choose a seat which has the best line of sight to entrances and exits (especially entrances) without having to turn your head much while seated.
  • Do not be the closest seat to the entrance – which is an immediate point of focus.
  • Being tucked into a booth will be a hindrance, so better to choose a table.
  • Avoid choosing a seat out in the middle. Sit closer to a wall, facing out – although not directly up against the wall which could hinder movement and options.
  • It is very important to be seated in a position where you can get to your feet quickly and start moving.
  • Choose a seat that enables you to see as many people as possible.
  • If possible, choose a seat that allows you to be as far away from the main entrance but closer to a secondary exit.

Your ability to recognize and perceive potential threats while going about routine activities will make the difference. Trust your gut instinct and always HAVE A PLAN.

For further information:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Burkina Faso Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program(STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou, in Ouaga 2000, Sector 15, on Avenue Sembene Ousmane, southeast of the Monument aux Héros Nationaux,  at (+226) 25-49-53-00, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.  If you are a U.S. citizen in an emergency situation after normal Embassy operating hours, please contact the Embassy, dial “1,” and ask to be connected to the duty officer.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.