US evacuates consulate in Lahore as militants carry out attacks

Action follows specific threat, which is ‘not related to other embassy closures’

The United States has evacuated all but essential staff from its consulate in the Pakistani city of Lahore following a specific threat to the mission.

The State Department has also advised US citizens to avoid travelling to Pakistan.

Officials in Washington said the withdrawal of staff from Lahore was a precautionary measure and was not related to the closure of US embassies throughout the Islamic world.

It follows a spate of militant attacks across Pakistan in the past few days that have left dozens dead.

The consulate in Lahore, the capital of the province of Punjab, had been scheduled to close from yesterday until tomorrow because of the Eid holiday. It is now unclear when it will reopen and the US said it would continue to assess the situation.

Meghan Gregonis, a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Islamabad, said staff from Lahore were being transferred to the capital. She was unable to say how many staff were based in Lahore, or the number of those being moved to Islamabad.

“We received information regarding a threat to the consulate,” she said. “We will continue to evaluate the situation.”

Earlier this week, 19 US diplomatic posts in 16 countries in the Middle East and North Africa were closed, and staff were evacuated from the embassy in Yemen, after officials said they had intercepted a message from the al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri which reportedly talked of plans for a major operation. None of the US consulates in Pakistan or its embassy in Islamabad were affected by those closures.  In a travel warning posted on its website, the State Department advised American citizens to put off all but essential travel to Pakistan.

“The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan,” it said. “Across the country, terrorist attacks frequently occur against civilian, government, and foreign targets.”

Pakistan continues to be rocked by incidents of militant violence. Yesterday at least nine people were killed by gunmen who opened fire outside a mosque in the south-western city of Quetta. About 20 others were wounded in the attack, which came as worshippers left the Sunni Muslim mosque following sunrise prayers for the Eid al-Fitr festival. Bullets hit a car carrying Ali Madad Jatak, a former provincial minister with the Pakistan People’s Party, but he was unhurt.

On Thursday, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 30 people at a  policeman’s funeral in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.

In Islamabad today, a man was shot dead by security guards as he reportedly tried to detonate a suicide bomb at a mosque.

Reports said the man opened fire at the security guards and was killed in an exchange of fire. Three guards were wounded in the incident and one of them died on his way to hospital.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Communications Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 6-month part-time contract (24 hours a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Broker

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Vehicle Broker is req...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Data Capture / Telesales

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific