MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has not monitored any specific threats to its posts abroad after the United States (US) closed at least 20 of its embassies in the Middle East and North Africa due to security threats allegedly from Al-Qaeda.
“We recognize the prerogative and the need of any country to take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their personnel and of their people,” DFA spokesman, Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez told reporters Monday.
He said so far they have not monitored “any specific threats but they continue to monitor the security situation in their areas and they remain vigilant to ensure the safety of our personnel as well as the security of our citizens abroad.”
US officials were quoted by international media as saying that they intercepted messages from leaders of the group Al-Qaeda threatening an attack on US Embassies and consulates.
Several major prison breaks in the region that led to the escape of inmates also contributed to the decision of the US State Department to close 22 posts on August 4, Sunday.
Hernandez said that they “have not received any specific information about this threat and exactly where.”
“But as far as our security agencies are concerned we are making sure that all appropriate measures [are in place] to secure our people, the public, and our visitors here so that they are safe and secure in our country,” he said.
The US Department of State said that the closure of 19 posts have been extended all the way up to August 10 Saturday, a day after the end of the month of Ramadan.
US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said in a statement posted on their website that “we’ve decided to extend the closure of several embassies and consulates including a small number of additional posts.”
The posts were closed “in accordance with local custom and practice for the bulk of the week for the Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan, and out of an abundance of caution,” Psaki said.
The State Department further added that this was not due to “a new threat stream” but was just to “exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect our employees including local employees and visitors to our facilities.”
No request has been received yet from the US to increase security arrangements in the US Embassy here in Manila, Hernandez said.
The 19 posts that would be closed up to August 10 are the following:
U.S. Embassy Antananarivo, Madagascar
U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
U.S. Embassy Amman, Jordan
U.S. Embassy Bujumbura, Burundi
U.S. Embassy Cairo, Egypt
U.S. Consulate Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
U.S. Embassy Djibouti, Djibouti
U.S. Embassy Doha, Qatar
U.S. Consulate Dubai, United Arab Emirates
U.S. Consulate Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
U.S. Embassy Khartoum, Sudan
U.S. Embassy Kigali, Rwanda
U.S. Embassy Kuwait City, Kuwait
U.S. Embassy Manama, Bahrain
U.S. Embassy Muscat, Oman
U.S. Embassy Port Louis, Mauritius
U.S. Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
U.S. Embassy Sana’a, Yemen
U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Libya
Originally posted at 3:32 p.m.