US, Canadian missions shut in Dhaka
An armoured personnel carrier, alongside additional police forces, stand guard outside the US embassy in Dhaka yesterday following Washington's worldwide alert that al-Qaeda may launch attacks on US interests in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in the coming days. Photo: Star
The US kept dozens of its embassies in Muslim countries, including Bangladesh, closed yesterday following Washington's worldwide travel alert in tandem with an Interpol global security warning.
Canada also kept its Bangladesh mission closed.
The US embassy in Dhaka and 21 US embassies and consulates in 16 other countries were closed while Britain, France and Germany kept their offices in Yemen shut and will keep them closed today as well.
Fears that al-Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in the coming days prompted the unprecedented move, reported CNN.
Interpol issued the warning as it believes jailbreaks across nine countries, including
Iraq, Libya and Pakistan, were linked to al-Qaeda.
Unnamed US officials said the Washington alert had been issued after they intercepted electronic communications in which senior al-Qaeda operatives discussed strikes on US interests in the Muslim world.
The US State Department warned American citizens on Friday about terror attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa with a possible attack coming from the Arabian Peninsula.
Friday's US advisory prompted Canada's foreign affairs department to release its own warning for travellers and diplomats in the Middle East and North African region, CBC News reported.
The department stated that Canadians were at a reasonably "elevated risk" of attacks due to the threat facing a "close friend and ally".
Of particular concern is Yemen, where the government is "on high alert against possible attacks in the days to come," a senior US security official told Xinhua.
On Saturday, security around the US embassy in Yemen was even tighter than last year when the embassy was raided by protesters. At least 12 tanks are stationed within 500 metres of the building, he added.
Meanwhile, security measures have been tightened in the diplomatic zone at Gulshan-Baridhara in Dhaka after the US embassy was shut yesterday over security threats.
Deputy Commissioner of the Chancery Division of Police Chowdhury Monjurul Kabir told The Daily Star that they had no specific information about security threats to the American embassy but they were on high alert to prevent any untoward situation.
Detectives in plain clothes, Rapid Action Battalion and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams were deployed to ensure the security of the area, police sources said.