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U.S. warns travelers to the Bahamas to be cautious after 18 murders in capital this year

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The U.S. State Department on Friday increased its advisory level for would-be travelers to the Bahamas, urging “increased caution,” as the nation’s capital has recorded 18 murders this year.

The elevation to Level 2 follows a security alert posted Wednesday by the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, which expressed concern that Americans might be victimized by gang violence in the capital.

“Murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets,” the embassy said in its alert. “Retaliatory gang violence has been the primary motive in 2024 murders.”

U.S. travelers were advised to be especially cautious in Nassau, use caution when out at night anywhere in the Bahamas, “keep a low profile,” be aware of the surroundings, don’t resist if confronted by robbers, and have and review security plans.

The State Department added that short-term vacation rentals have the added concern of often lacking the kind of private security present at hotels. It said Nassau’s gang crime is not fenced out of areas frequented by tourists.

“Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas,” it said in its travel advisory.

The State Department also warned that many recreational watercraft rentals, tours and trips are inconsistently regulated and thus come with an additional layer of risk.

“Watercraft may be poorly maintained, and some operators may not have safety certifications,” it said. “Always review and heed local weather and marine alerts before engaging in water-based activities.”

The department also warned Americans not to swim alone in the Bahamas, where there have been recent shark attacks.

Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis responded on Thursday to the embassy’s alert, saying it’s unlikely to affect the number of American tourists in his nation, according to Bahamian daily news platform the Tribune.

He added that the United States has a right to issue such alerts, and the Bahamas does the same, the publication said. The U.S. warnings came as Davis pushed for a crackdown on crime that would include modifying the parameters for constitutionally protected bail.

The Bahamas commissioner of police and a spokesperson for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department raised its advisory level for travel to Jamaica to Level 3 — this urges Americans to reconsider going to a particular country — based on violent crime and inconsistent access to emergency medical services.

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