'Credible' threat to US embassy

2009-09-23 10:30

Johannesburg - US government facilities in South Africa remained closed for a second day on Wednesday, after the State Department said it had received a "credible" threat against the embassy.

The US embassy in Pretoria, consulates in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, as well as aid and development offices have been closed since Tuesday due to the threat, which neither the embassy nor South African officials will discuss.

US facilities will stay closed at least until Friday, due to a public holiday on Thursday.

In a Washington press briefing, State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly said the closure was a precaution.

"The embassy received information about a possible threat against the embassy, and so as a precaution the State Department decided to close US government facilities in South Africa," he said.

Vigilant

"We've notified the American community in South Africa to remain vigilant when they're... in the vicinity of US government facilities," he said.

"The embassy will reopen as soon as we've completed our assessment of the security posture."

Kelly would not be drawn on what the specific threat was, but said US officials were in close contact with South African authorities on the matter.

The closure highlighted the broader concerns about security in South Africa, ahead of the 2010 football World Cup, less than nine months away.

'Under control'

National police chief Bheki Cele said on Tuesday that the situation was "under control."

On August 7, 1998, suicide bombers targeted the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in one of the most devastating attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

A total of 213 people, including 12 Americans and 34 local embassy staff, died in the Nairobi bombing. Another 11 died in the Tanzania blast.

The blasts sparked an enormous effort to bolster security at US embassies around the world, and particularly across Africa.

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