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Gambia warning for British tourists


British holidaymakers in Gambia have been told to avoid public gatherings

British holidaymakers in Gambia have been told to avoid public gatherings

British holidaymakers in Gambia have been told to avoid public gatherings

The Foreign Office said it is keeping its travel advice "under constant review" for British holidaymakers planning a winter getaway to the Gambia after an alleged coup attempt.

Heavy gunfire was reported near the presidential palace in the capital Banjul earlier this week, while long-time ruler Yahya Jammeh was out of the country.

Dozens of military personnel and civilians have since been arrested following the violence, which President Jammeh described as a "terrorist" attack by dissidents based in the US, Germany and UK, according to reports.

The Foreign Office said the situation in the west African country now appeared "calm" but tourists in Banjul have been warned to avoid public gatherings.

It said: "There were reports of gunfire in the early hours of 30 December in the capital, Banjul.

"The situation is now calm. If you're in Banjul, avoid public gatherings and monitor local media for developments."

The Foreign Office has not warned against travelling to the Gambia, which attracts more than 60,000 British tourists each year, but a spokeswoman added: "We are keeping our travel advice under constant review."

British tourists have been told to expect their vehicles to be searched if they are stopped by security forces.

However, roads between the airport and the main holiday resort areas are open as usual and Banjul airport is operating as normal, the Foreign Office said.

President Jammeh's rule has been criticised by human rights activists who have branded his regime as repressive, saying it targets political dissidents, journalists, gays and lesbians.

The Foreign Office said "attacks on tourists are increasing" in the Gambia and corruption in the country is "endemic at all levels."

There has been a period of "anti-UK rhetoric by the Gambian President" after the country withdrew from the Commonwealth in October, it added.

"Although this rhetoric has since subsided and anti-UK sentiment among the wider population appears limited, you should avoid discussing politically sensitive topics," the Foreign Office said in its travel advice.

There has also been an "increase in political tension" after disagreements between the Gambia and the European Union over the deterioration of human rights in the west African country.

The Foreign Office said independent travellers are at "increased risk" due to the lack of local emergency support and tourists have been urged to keep their next of kin informed about their travel plans.

A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said: "Abta always works closely with the Foreign Office in any situation which might affect the safety of passengers, which we have done in relation to the Gambia.

"Luckily the situation did not worsen and the resorts have remained unaffected."

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