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US evacuates consulate in Lahore over security threat

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-09

The US government on Friday ordered all non-essential staff to evacuate its consulate in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore due to security concerns. The State Department has also warned US citizens against travelling to Pakistan.

The US State Department on Friday ordered non-essential personnel out of its consulate in the northeastern city of Lahore, but said that the move was not related to the shutdown of over a dozen diplomatic missions across the Middle East and Africa one week ago.

The United States government also issued a travel warning for Pakistan on the State Department’s website, saying foreign and indigenous terrorist groups posed a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan.

An embassy spokesperson said it was unclear when the diplomatic mission in Lahore would reopen.

The decision to shut the consulate come amid rising tensions between arch-foes Pakistan and India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. On Thursday India directly accused the Pakistani army of involvement an ambush that killed five Indian soldiers earlier in the week.

Worldwide alert

On August 2, the US closed 19 US diplomatic outposts in 16 countries and told nonessential staff in the US embassy in Yemen to evacuate, warning that al Qaeda may be planning attacks in the month of August.

American intelligence sources told media that the closures followed the interception of a communication between Osama bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahri, and the Yemen-based wing of al Qaeda. 

However, the Associated Press reported that the Lahore announcement was not linked with the earlier closures, citing two US officials.

The embassy spokesperson said Friday’s closure was due to a threat specific to Lahore.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-08-09

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