Washington -  The United States, on Saturday advised its citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan, saying that foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a threat to them throughout the country.

The warning comes in the wake of increasing terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks, in Pakistan. The fresh travel warning replaces an earlier one, issued on 22 May.

Pakistan continues to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks, the State Department said, adding that targeted attacks against government officials, humanitarian and non-governmental organisation (NGO) employees, tribal elders, and law enforcement personnel were common in the country.

The department cited continuous terrorist violence in Balochistan, Quetta, Gwadar and Lahore as the main cause of concern. It said foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan.

Terrorists have targeted US diplomats and diplomatic facilities in the past, and evidence suggests they continue to do so, the travel warning said, adding that terrorists and criminal groups have resorted to kidnapping for ransom.

Sectarian violence, the State Department said, remains a serious threat throughout the country, and the Pakistani government continues to enforce blasphemy laws.

Religious minority communities have been victims of targeted killings and accusations of blasphemy, it added.

The State Department said insurgent and terrorist groups conducted numerous suicide bombings, hand grenade attacks, and ambushes on Pakistani security forces and civilians over the past six months in Balochistan.