US withdraws diplomats from Lahore consulate

WASHINGTON: The US state department on Thursday warned Americans not to travel to Pakistan and ordered non-essential government personnel to leave the US consulate in Lahore because of a specific threat to that diplomatic mission.

In a travel warning, the state department said the presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups posed a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan.

The personnel drawdown at the Lahore consulate was a precautionary measure and wasn’t related to the recent closures of numerous US diplomatic missions in the Muslim world, two US officials said. The consulate in Lahore was scheduled to be closed for the Eid holiday from Thursday through on Sunday and no reopening had been scheduled, one of the officials said.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the order by name and requested anonymity.

Earlier this week, 19 US diplomatic outposts 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 after US intelligence officials said they had intercepted a recent message from al-Qaida’s top leader about plans for a major terror attack.

None of the consulates in Pakistan or the US embassy in Islamabad were affected by the earlier closures.