The U.S. government revealed that it had ordered non-essential staff to leave the consulate in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Friday because of the potential terrorist attack, warning U.S. citizens not to travel to the country.
“The Department of State ordered this drawdown due to specific threats concerning the U.S. consulate in Lahore,” said a travel warning posted on the Department of State’s website on Thursday.
“The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan,” the statement read.
“The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in the major cities. Threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit.”
The warning in Lahore comes two days after the U.S. officials evacuated some diplomats from Yemen and ordered nationals to leave that country without any delays.
The U.S. has already suspended work of nearly two dozen missions across the Middle East after an alert last week, warning citizens that the most dangerous terrorist group in the world, al Qaeda, may be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.
The consulate in Lahore was initially set to to be closed for the Eid holiday from Thursday through Sunday and without reopening, one of the officials revealed to reporters.
As Fox News writes, the officials were not authorized to discuss the order by name and spoke with the media on the condition of anonymity.
A spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Meghan Gregonis, said, “We received information regarding a threat to the consulate. As a precautionary measure, we are undertaking a drawdown of all except emergency personnel.”
The U.S. government ordered to evaquate the staff to Islamabad, revealed Gregonis. However, emergency personnel will remain at its posts in Lahore and the embassy officials say they were not informed when the consulate will be open again.
The U.S. State Department promised to evaluate the threat reporting.
“Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,” the statement from the State Department claimed.
“We continue to work closely with other nations on the threat from international terrorism, including from al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats,” the officials reported a week ago.
Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had previously confirmed the possibility of terrorist attacks, saying: “We’ve had a series of threats. In this instance, we can take a step to better protect our personnel and, out of an abundance of caution, we should.”