US embassies close over terrorist threat

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The Independent Online

The United States has closed 21 of its embassies in the Middle East, African and South Asian because of terrorist attack fears.

The United States has closed 21 of its embassies in the Middle East, African and South Asian because of terrorist attack fears.

All posts in the Middle East, the Gulf region and north Africa will be closed to public business until Monday.

Others are in Nigeria, Tanzania, Senegal, Mauritania, Djibouti, South Africa, Kenya, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.

The State Department said US personnel will remain to look out for the interests of Americans.

The announcement came a day after the USS Cole, one of the Navy's most advanced warships, was bombed during a refueling stop in Yemen and violence increased in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

Protesters outside the US embassy in South Africa demonstrating against Israel's attacks on Palestinians stabbed two policemen protecting the compound.

One police officer was stabbed in the leg and the other in the arm, police spokesman Captain George Francis said. Both were hospitalized and in stable condition. Three people have been arrested.

About 700 people participated in the protest, and at one stage police used water cannons to disperse the unruly crowd, Francis said.

Protesters hurled abuse at officials, and fighting started after an Israeli flag was set alight.

The marchers had planned to hand over a list of grievances to embassy officials in connection with the recent Middle East clashes that have claimed more than 100 lives.

The US Embassy closed early today - at noon instead of 5pm - after the US State Department asked it to take necessary precautions to maintain safety. It is scheduled to re-open on Monday.

Another man was taken to the hospital after he collapsed outside the embassy.

After protesting outside the embassy, the marchers walked to the Israeli Embassy and chanted "down with Israel" and other slogans before dispersing after 15 minutes.

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