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Al Qaeda threat : US withdraws Lahore staff

Al Qaeda threat : US withdraws Lahore staff
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The US on Friday evacuated all non-emergency staff from its consulate in Lahore, citing a specific terror threat against the facility even as it...

The US on Friday evacuated all non-emergency staff from its consulate in Lahore, citing a specific terror threat against the facility even as it issued a fresh travel advisory to Americans warning against visiting Pakistan. The move comes amid a worldwide alert over al Qaeda intercepts."Today, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency US Government personnel from our Consulate General in Lahore, Pakistan. We are undertaking this drawdown due to concerns about credible threat information specific to the US Consulate in Lahore," a senior State Department official in Washington told PTI.

A Pakistani official of the US consulate in Lahore told PTI that the local staff would receive instructions from the officials concerned about joining the duty after Eid holidays ending on Sunday."We are not told about the closure of the consulate. The local staff may resume duty next week," he said. The US diplomats in Lahore have been moved to Islamabad. Meanwhile, Lahore police issued a terror alert in the wake of Quetta blast at a police residential compound that killed 30 policemen including senior officials on Thursday.

"There has been a threat from Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and its allied groups especially on forces and foreigners," a senior police official told PTI. "We are coordinating with other agencies to thwart terrorists' Plans during Eid days," he said. The State Department is taking appropriate steps to protect its employees and others who may be visiting its facilities, a US official said on condition of anonymity as the US issued an updated travel warning for Pakistan.

US defends surveillance programme

Washington (PTI): The US has defended its controversial Internet and telephone surveillance programme, saying the National Security Agency (NSA) examines only a very small percentage of the world's traffic and focused entirely on foreign terrorist threats. "In carrying out its mission, NSA collects only what it is explicitly authorised to collect," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Thursday.

"And while NSA analysts examine only a very small percentage of the world's traffic, if communications of US persons are incidentally collected the agency must follow minimisation procedures that are approved by the US Attorney General and designed to protect the privacy of US persons," Carney said.

Al Qaeda suspects held in S Arabia

Riyadh (AFP): Saudi Arabia has arrested two suspected al Qaeda members who may have been plotting against Western embassies in the Middle East, the interior ministry has announced. The two men, a Yemeni and a Chadian national had contacts with the Yemeni branch of the terror network, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki.

The Chadian suspect had been expelled from Saudi Arabia but he returned with a passport issued by another country, Turki added. "The two suspects may have been implicated in the threats against Western embassies in the region," he said. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is seen by Washington as the most active branch of the jihadist network.

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