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Dhaka Tribune

US issues global travel alert

Update : 02 Aug 2013, 04:49 AM

Several US embassies and consulates including the ones in Bangladesh will remain close on Sunday in response to a security threat from terrorist network al-Qaeda, reports CBS News.

The US State Department made the announcement of keeping shut the embassies on Friday.

Meanwhile, in a latest development, the US issued a worldwide travel alert on late Friday, warning US citizens about the "continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa."

Quoting a stamen issued by State Department, Reuters said current information suggests al-Qaeda and its affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in the Middle East and beyond, and may concentrate those efforts in August.

A US official said the alert was based on the same intelligence information that prompted US embassy closures for this Sunday.

The CBS News network says the US intelligence has picked up signs of an al-Qaeda plot against American diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries. The intelligence did not mention a specific location, which is why all embassies that would normally be open on Sunday have been ordered to close.

That includes embassies and consulates in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, where Sunday is the start of the work week.

CBS, quoting US intelligence officials, also says this appears to be a real plot in the making and not just the normal chatter among terrorists talking about attacks they usually like to carry out.

At least 14 embassies have announced that they will close on Sunday in accordance with the State Department's guidance, including the US embassies in Bangladesh, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Afghanistan

A notice on the website of the embassy in Bangladesh explained: "The American Embassy including the American Centre will be closed on Sunday, August 4. For emergency services involving American citizens, please call 885-5500 and ask for the duty officer."

Earlier, Marie Harf, the deputy spokeswoman for the State Department, told reporters that the step was taken as a "precautionary" measure. She, however, did not provide further specifics on the nature of the threat or which embassies would be forced to shutter for the day.

"The Department of State has instructed certain US embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4th," she said, explaining that the decision was made "out of an abundance of caution."

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