Al Qaida alert closes U.S. embassy in Sudan

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

The U.S. embassy in Sudan has shut down because of a threat of an Al Qaida insurgency attack.

U.S. diplomatic sources said Sudan and the United States have determined that Al Qaida operatives have entered the Arab state from strongholds in Kenya and might be planning an attack over the next few days. The sources said Sudanese authorities have increased security around American interests in Khartoum.

The U.S. embassy in Khartoum has suspended operations for a week because of what it said was a "specific threat" to American interests in the Sudanese capital. The embassy did not elaborate.

Sudan was said to have cooperated with the United States in the war against Al Qaida, Middle East Newsline reported. But the Khartoum regime has refused to shut down training bases used by such Palestinian insurgency groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The closure was meant to begin on Wednesday and last for a week. It was the first such closure by the embassy since it expanded operations earlier this year amid improved relations with the Khartoum regime.

"This action is the result of a credible and specific threat to U.S. interests in Khartoum," an embassy statement said. "We urge all U.S. citizens in Sudan to exercise extra caution and to avoid gatherings of foreigners that may attract outside attention."

U.S. officials said the Sudanese government has been cooperating with Washington in trying to detect and foil any attack. They said Sudan's intelligence agencies have confirmed the entry of Al Qaida insurgents over the last two weeks.

"The U.S. embassy wishes to express its appreciation for the strategic support provided by the Sudanese authorities in confronting the present threat," the embassy statement said.

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