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Violent surge targets police in Mexican state

Tribune Newspapers

Mexico: Authorities announced an increase in violent criminal activity in the west-central state of Jalisco and urged travelers to use caution. Police have been the targets of most violence, and officials said the violent confrontations may continue even with federal police reinforcements. Although there is no information about tourists being targeted, visitors should use caution while in Guadalajara or other areas in Jalisco.

Egypt: Health officials reported more than 120 confirmed cases of H1N1 virus, or bird flu, since November 2014. Symptoms can include eye infections, flu-like symptoms and even pneumonia or death. H1N1 is not easily spread from person to person, and travelers are not currently at a serious risk for infection, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends avoiding contact with animals, live poultry markets and street food, eating only fully cooked meats and practicing enhanced hygiene.

Turkey: Travelers may soon have added safety features in Istanbul taxis. A private security firm is offering taxi companies a service that will place panic buttons in cabs, one near the driver, another for passengers, to make immediate contact with a security center that will alert local police or ambulance drivers. Pushing the button will provide instant video footage of inside and outside the taxi. The head of Istanbul's taxi association wants to see the service installed in all taxis.

Armenia: The government announced that April 23 will be a no-work day to commemorate Genocide Remembrance Day, the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Traffic restrictions will be imposed in downtown Yerevan, particularly near Republic Square between 8 a.m. and midnight. A free concert will take place that day in the square, though access will be limited to avoid overcrowding. Several events are planned for April 24, including the opening of the Armenian Genocide Memorial at Tsitsernakaberd, starting at 1 p.m. Because of expected disruptions in travel, tourists should check transit and road schedules and plan accordingly.

Kazakhstan: Snow melt caused severe flooding in several areas of the country, and many roads may be closed for some time during the cleanup. Major and minor roads in Akmola, East Kazakhstan, Pavlodar and Qaraghandy regions were closed April 13. No casualties were reported, but hundreds of people were evacuated, and areas in South Kazakhstan also were severely flooded, though no closures have been reported in that region. Travelers should follow local news and check routes while visiting the country.

Compiled from news services and travel sources. For updates, check with the State Department at 888-407-4747,

Habegger and Burlison and freelance reporters for the Chicago Tribune.

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