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US issues travel alert for Laos due to attacks on key highway

[BANGKOK] The US is warning its citizens to avoid road travel between two of Laos' most popular tourist attractions due to recent shooting attacks along a key highway, an alert that comes in a year the Southeast Asian nation hosts world leaders at a regional summit.

The travel alert issued Monday by the US State Department said the embassy has banned American officials from travel along Road 13, a highway connecting Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng "because of the unpredictable nature of the violence and the lack of official information regarding possible motives or a Lao government response."

A series of attacks along the highway has killed one person and wounded nine, with the most recent violence occurring on March 1, the alert said.

A separate US warning advised against travel to Xaisomboun province, where two roadside attacks in January killed three people.

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The alerts come as Laos plays host this year to meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an event that brings together the leaders of the 10 member nations as well as global leaders such as US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping.