US facilities in SA closed over security threat

The United States embassy and other American government offices in South Africa were closed on Tuesday due to an undisclosed security threat, which police said was under control.

Police National Commissioner Bheki Cele said he could not give details of the threat.

“Our intelligence world is dealing with it. It is under control,” he told reporters in Cape Town.

“There are things that have happened. There are things that are happening,” he said, adding that police were in touch with US officials.

South Africa, due to host the Soccer World Cup next year, is not itself seen as a target for terrorists.

Somali rebels have vowed to avenge the killing last week of one of the continent’s most wanted al-Qaeda suspects in a raid by US commandos, but there has been no previous link between Somali insurgents and South Africa.

Bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 killed 224 people and wounded thousands.

A State Department spokesperson in Washington said the US government was warning American citizens to be extra vigilant while near US government facilities in South Africa.

“We are maintaining close contact with South African authorities on this issue,” he said, adding that the facilities would reopen as soon as the security situation permits.

As well as the embassy, there are US consulates in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
US embassy spokeswoman Sharon Hudson-Dean said the current assumption was that the offices would reopen on Wednesday.

In addition to the embassy and consulates, there are also other US government offices, including that of USAid.

A spokesperson for the British High Commission said it had not been informed of anything.—Reuters

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