US shuts Saudi Arabian embassies amidst 'security concerns'

US President Barack Obama recently visited the country to pay his regards to King Salman

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The Independent Online

The US has closed its embassy in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh and suspended all consular operations and services for two days due to security concerns.

In statement, the embassy said that consular services in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dharan would not be available on Sunday and Monday due to “heightened security concerns.”

It urged US citizens to “be aware of their surroundings, and take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country.”

A security message the day before the embassy had warned that “individuals associated with a terrorist organisation could be targeting Western oil workers… for an attack(s) and/or kidnapping(s).”

The message did not identify the militants.

The last security incident to take place in Saudi Arabia involving US citizens was last October when a Saudi-America, dismissed from his job at a US defence contractor in Riyadh, shot two US co-workers, killing one and wounding the other.

The security message tells US citizens to avoid large crowds, identify safe areas before walking in public, carry a phone at all times and to report any concerns to the Embassy.

Diplomatic concerns have been raised between the two countries recently due to talks between the US and Iran over an extension of Iran's nuclear programme.

Secretary of State John Kerry visited the capital earlier this month to reassure King Salman and foreign minister Saud al-Faisal that the negotiation of a nuclear accord would not lead to the Obama administration letting down its guard against any Iranian interference in Saudi Arabia.

The gulf region has also received heavy criticism for its human rights record recently, following the public execution of a woman in the city of Mecca and the sentencing of Raif Badawi, a blogger sentenced to 10,000 lashes and who may now face the death penalty.