US citizens should halt all but essential travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amid increased risk of violence, kidnapping, corruption and infectious diseases, the US Department of State said in a travel warning on Friday.

“US citizens should avoid all but essential travel to the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, the provinces of Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele and Ituriz and particularly the new provinces of Tanganyika and Haut-Lomami, where instability and sporadic violence continues,” the warning explained.

The State Department added that armed groups and bandits continue to operate in the country who kidnap people for ransom.

Potential political protests ahead of the national elections in November 2016 are also of concern, the State Department added.

The DRC has been in a state of civil war since 1996, when Rwanda invaded the country and the long-standing DRC President Mobutu Sese Seko was overthrown.

Some 2.7 million people were internally displaced in the DRC amid an ongoing armed conflict as of December 2014, according to the UN.

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