US Embassy to stay shut

2009-09-22 22:41

Johannesburg - The US Embassy and other American offices in South Africa will remain closed for a second day on Wednesday after closing on Tuesday because of unspecified security concerns, US and South African officials said.

Neither US Embassy spokesperson Sharon Hudson-Dean nor Nonkululeko Mbatha, spokesperson for the South African national police commissioner, would say whether a threat had prompted the closure.

Hudson-Dean said the offices were closed because of information provided by US security officials.

"We are not discussing the nature of the information," she said.

The closure affected the embassy in Pretoria, consulates in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, and aid and development offices.

May reopen on Friday

Hudson-Dean had said earlier the facilities would reopen on Wednesday, but later said officials had decided to remain closed "because of this information, this same information".

The facilities also would be closed as previously scheduled for a South African public holiday on Thursday, Hudson-Dean said.

She said a decision on whether to reopen on Friday would be made later.

"The matter is under control," Mbatha said. "Our agencies, particularly crime intelligence, are working closely with US Embassy personnel."

Warning about al-Qaeda

A message from US diplomats about the closure advised American citizens to review a July 29 US State Department warning expressing concern "that al-Qaeda and affiliated organisations continue to plan terrorist attacks against US interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East".

The warning followed suicide attacks earlier in July on two American-owned hotels in Indonesia's capital that killed seven people and wounded more than 50.

On September 14, a US commando raid in Somalia, in eastern Africa, killed an al-Qaeda operative.

Extremist Islamic violence has not hit southern Africa to the extent it has east Africa, southeast Asia or the Middle East.