US keeps SA embassy shut over security threat

The United States will keep its government facilities in South Africa closed for a second day on Wednesday due to undisclosed security fears, an embassy spokesperson said.

“All US facilities will remain closed on Wednesday,” said spokesperson Sharon Hudson-Dean.

She said earlier the embassy had “received information from the regional security office which I cannot discuss”.

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

South Africa’s national police chief insisted that the situation was under control, saying intelligence services had been in contact with American officials.

“Our intelligence has had meetings with American personnel,” police commissioner Bheki Cele told reporters in Cape Town.

“There are things that have happened, there are things that are happening. We are in constant contact. That issue is under control,” he said.

In addition to the main embassy complex in Pretoria, the United States maintains consulates in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Offices of the US Agency for International Development have also been closed.

The embassies will be closed on Thursday as well due to a public holiday in South Africa.

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. - AFP

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