Cyprus Mail
Americas

US orders staff to leave Pakistan’s Lahore consulate

Policeman and private security stand guard on a road leading to the US consulate in Lahore, Pakistan

By Katharine Houreld

The U.S. government ordered the evacuation of non-essential staff from its consulate in the northeastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Friday due to the threat of attack, with the State Department also warning U.S. citizens not to travel to Pakistan.

“The Department of State ordered this drawdown due to specific threats concerning the U.S. consulate in Lahore,” said a travel warning posted on the Department of State’s website on Thursday.

The warning in Lahore, near Pakistan’s border with India, comes two days after Washington evacuated some diplomats from Yemen and told its nationals to leave that country immediately.

The United States shut nearly two dozen missions across the Middle East after a worldwide alert on August 2, warning Americans that al Qaeda may be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Lahore warning noted that “several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups pose a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan”.

A U.S. embassy spokeswoman said it was unclear when the consulate would reopen. Tensions have also risen this week with Pakistan’s neighbour India over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

It was unclear if the Lahore announcement was linked with the earlier U.S. closures. The embassy spokeswoman said the closure was due to a specific threat to Lahore.

A cosmopolitan city dominated by an ancient Mughal fort, Lahore is Pakistan’s cultural capital but has also suffered from attacks by militant groups.

A bomb killed five people and wounded dozens on a restaurant-lined street, popular with tourists, in Lahore last month. Attacks have gone up since the landslide election of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in May elections.

Pakistan is home to a number of militant groups, including al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other sectarian groups.

The U.S. State Department initially announced the wider embassy closures would be only for last Sunday, then extended the closures of some by a week and added Burundi, Rwanda and Mauritius to the closure list.

A number of the missions would have been closed anyway for most of the week due to the Eid celebration at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the State Department said.

Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries, is the base for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden. Militants have launched attacks from there against the West.

U.S. sources have told Reuters that intercepted communication between bin Laden’s successor as al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, and the Yemen-based wing was one part of the intelligence behind their alert last week.

Related posts

Hezbollah says two Israeli drones fall in Beirut suburbs, one explodes

Reuters News Service

Trump paints picture of unity at prickly G7 summit

Reuters News Service

Johnson to tell EU’s Tusk UK won’t pay 39 bln stg under no-deal Brexit -Sky News

Reuters News Service

‘We cannot remain silent over Amazon fires,’ says Merkel

Press Association

Thousands march in Hong Kong as police in black masks look on

Reuters News Service

Paris prosecutor opens inquiry into whether Epstein committed crimes in France

Reuters News Service

1 comment

Comments are closed.