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US urges ‘caution’ to travellers amid spike in Bahamas murders

Skyline of Paradise Island with colorful houses at the ferry terminal. Nassau, Bahamas. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Skyline of Paradise Island with colorful houses at the ferry terminal. Nassau, Bahamas. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Americans are being warned about travel to the Bahamas amid an uptick in violent crime.

In a travel advisory issued Friday, the State Department urged travellers to “exercise increased caution.”

Most of the crime has occurred on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama, where Nassau and Freeport are respectively located. In Nassau’s Over-The-Hill neighbourhood, “gang-on-gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population,” the advisory states.

According to the US Embassy in the Bahamas, there have been 18 murders in Nassau so far this year, primarily due to “retaliatory gang violence.”

“Murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets,” the embassy said.

There have also been burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults “in both tourist and non-tourist areas,” the State Department said.

“Be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental properties where private security companies do not have a presence,” the travel advisory stated.

The State Department also warned travellers against “activities involving commercial recreational watercraft,” noting that they are “not consistently regulated.” Commercial watercraft operators are permitted to “operate their vessels regardless of weather forecasts,” and injuries and deaths have occurred, the department said.

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

The department also warned travellers not to swim alone, to be mindful of sharks, and to be aware of weather and water conditions.