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'Specific Threat' Prompts U.S. To Curb Staff At Lahore Consulate


Pakistani security personnel guard the U.S. Consulate in Lahore this past week.

Pakistani security personnel guard the U.S. Consulate in Lahore this past week.

The U.S. State Department has ordered nonessential government personnel to leave the U.S. Consulate in the Pakistani city of Lahore because of the possibility of an attack.

"We have received information regarding a threat to our consulate in Lahore," Meghan Gregonis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal. "As a precautionary measure we have undertaken a draw-down for all but emergency personnel in Lahore."

The State Department released a statement about the action late on August 8 citing "specific threats."

Gregonis said the consulate employees were being evacuated to Islamabad.

"We do not have an announcement at this time on when the consulate will reopen," she said.

The consulate had already been scheduled to be closed from August 8-11 for the the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

The State Department also advised U.S. citizens to defer all nonessential travel to Pakistan because of terrorist threats to posed by "several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups."

U.S. consulates in Pakistan have been targeted before. In 2010, a car bombing and grenade attack on the consulate in Peshawar killed four Pakistani.

Gregonis said the withdrawal of staff in Lahore was not linked to a terrorist threat that led to temporary closures of 19 U.S. diplomatic missions in 16 countries across the Middle East and Africa earlier this week. No missions in Pakistan were included in that alert.

Those facilities were closed after the United States reportedly intercepted a message from Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri threatening a major terrorist attack. Nonessential personnel were also evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Yemen.

The closed missions are expected to reopen on August 10.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
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