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Messages for U.S. Citizen

Violence in Coastal Eastern Sabah (Borneo) 

March 4, 2013 

The U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur advises U.S. Citizens against travel to the following area of Eastern Sabah (Borneo):   the coastal region extending from the eastern most tip of Sabah south to the border with Indonesia.  This area includes the towns of Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna, and Tawau.   Several of these towns are the embarkation points for nearby islands frequented by tourists, including the dive site of Sipadan.  

During the period March 1-3, clashes occurred in this area between Malaysian security personnel and armed groups that, according to media reports, have resulted in the deaths of at least 26 persons, including 8 police.  The Government of Malaysia has mobilized further security forces, and there is the potential for more violent incidents.   

Local authorities have restricted movement in and around Lahad Datu in particular. If you encounter official check-points in the area follow all instructions.  Upon approaching an official check-point as the driver of a vehicle, do not turn around.  Proceed to the check-point and prepare personal identification for the security personnel to examine.  U.S. Citizens are reminded that they should carry their U.S. passport with them at all times when in Malaysia.  

U.S. Citizens residing in or visiting eastern Sabah should obey any evacuation and curfew orders announced by Malaysian officials.  
The U.S. Embassy is not aware of specific threats to U.S. citizens in Malaysia at this time.  

If you have any questions or concerns, please call the U.S. Embassy at (03) 2168-5000 or visit the U.S. Citizens Service website at  We will post the most updated information on the website.  

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Malaysia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the embassy or nearest consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  

Regularly monitor the Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Malaysia.  For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad.” 

Contact the embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Android market, to have travel information at your fingertips.