Friday, September 14, 2012

U.S. Embassy Warns of “Threat Situation” In Northern Nigeria Tied To Benghazi Attack

Following the outbreak of violent anti-American protests across the Muslim world, sparked by a highly-offensive U.S.-made anti-Muslim film that went viral on the internet, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria has issued emergency warnings to U.S.  citizens who may be traveling in Northern Nigeria or the Federal Capital City of Abuja.

“The U.S. Mission in Nigeria issues this emergency message to update U.S. citizens on the current threat situation in Nigeria,” the warning read. “The U.S. Mission reminds citizens of the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas.

“Violent and deadly demonstrations and attacks occurred in Cairo, Egypt, and Benghazi, Libya, during the past 24 hours, including a lethal attack against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Extremists may attempt to target U.S citizens and other Westerners in Nigeria. The U.S. Mission in Nigeria strongly urges U.S. citizens in Nigeria to consider their personal security and to keep personal safety in the forefront of their planning.

The film popped up on YouTube dubbed in Arabic, stirring outrage. In response, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said it deplored "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims - as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."

The statement made reference to last week’s attack on cell phone towers allegedly by extremists. Over 30 towers were damaged and cellular phone and internet service was affected.  “Additional attacks could further weaken the ability of citizens to communicate through cellular telephones and the internet. Land line telephone communications in Nigeria remain limited. U.S. citizens should attempt to arrange for multiple means of communication during emergencies,” advised the official document.

“This year, extremists have threatened  churches, mosques, media houses, police stations, immigration and customs offices, financial institutions, large hotels, shopping malls and markets, state government offices, communications centers, beer gardens, and nightclubs,” the embassy noted.” Attackers have also burned and destroyed several public and private schools in Borno, and targeted several educational institutions in Kano and churches in Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, Niger, and Borno states. Additionally, extremists continue to target westerners for abduction. As such, the situation in the country remains fluid and unpredictable.”

“All U.S. citizens should use caution and discretion when deciding to attend large functions or visit establishments identified as potential targets, and respond appropriately if they detect suspicious activities. Because of ongoing security concerns within the Federal Capital Territory, U.S. citizens should continue to expect heavy traffic congestion, road blocks, and significant police/security force deployments. All U.S. citizens should remain vigilant, pay attention to their surroundings, limit exposure to large crowds, and keep their cellular telephones in close proximity for use in cases of emergency.

“U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Nigeria are strongly advised to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By enrolling, you make it easier for the U.S. Mission in Nigeria to contact you in case of emergency.”

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