Washington: The US State Department on Friday evacuated all non-emergency staff from its consulate in the Pakistani city of Lahore, citing specific terrorist threat against the facility.
The US has also issued a travel advisory to all its citizens asking to defer unnecessary travel to Pakistan amid a worldwide alert over Al-Qaeda intercepts. US citizens who are in Lahore despite the travel warning were asked to limit non-essential travel within the country. A senior State Department official has reportedly said that the US citizens in Pakistan should enroll their presence in Pakistan through the Smart Traveller Enrolment Program (STEP) in a bid to avoid any untoward incident.
“The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan,” the official statement read.
“Thought the Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, threat reports indicate that terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where US citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit,” the statement read.
Earlier this week, 19 US embassies in 16 countries in the Middle East and Africa were closed to the public through Saturday and nonessential personnel were evacuated from the US Embassy in Yemen.
Most of al-Qaeda’s core leadership is believed to reside in Pakistan and the city of Lahore is home to other extremists sympathetic to the group. Lahore is well-known as a base for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.