Security warning issued for U.S. citizens in Pakistan

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Friday, April 27, 2012

ISLAMABAD—As the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden approaches, the U.S. Embassy here is warning U.S. citizens in Pakistan to take precautions during the next week, and has restricted the travel of embassy staff during that time period.

The security alert does not specifically mention the anniversary of bin Laden's death by U.S. soldiers in Abbottabad on May 2, but says: "Due to security concerns, the U.S. Embassy has restricted its employees from going to restaurants and markets in Islamabad April 27-May 5," the message reads. "We recommend that U.S. citizens in Islamabad during this period take similar precautions."

The embassy also has restricted its employees from taking personal trips to the Gilgit/Skardu area of northern Pakistan due to "current security conditions and a significant increase in the level of sectarian violence."

In its message, the embassy reiterated its recommendation that all U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel to Pakistan and that for those citizens that are in the country to practice good situational awareness; avoid crowds and protests, even if they appear peaceful; maintain a low profile; vary times and routes for all travel; and make sure all their travel documents and visas are in order.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and U.S. Northern Command issued a joint intelligence bulletin on Wednesday warning U.S. law enforcement about the significance of the anniversary to various terrorist groups and the need for heightened security, according to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the bulletin. Though no credible threats have been identified, U.S. officials are worried in particular that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, "intends to advance plots along multiple fronts, including renewed efforts to target Western aviation," according to the bulletin.