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US Mission Shuts Embassy, Facilities In Nigeria Before Muslims' Friday Prayers

Source: THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com
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SAN FRANCISCO, September 20, (THEWILL) – The United States mission in Nigeria Thursday said it would close its Embassy in Abuja, Consulate in Lagos and all facilities from 11.00am on Friday, September 21, 2012, minutes before Muslim prayers.

The mission said its action is “solely as a precautionary measure” as protests against a controversial film shot in California, United States, and another controversial cartoon published in a French magazine ridiculing Prophet Mohammed spread across the globe.

In response to the publication, France also said it would temporarily close its embassies and schools in at least 20 countries on Friday when protests sometimes break out after Muslim prayers.

Last week in the wake of protests in Egypt and Libya, where its Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed, the Nigerian police ordered formations to protect US mission compounds as well as all foreign missions in Nigeria.

In Thursday’s emergency message, the US further advised its citizens to remain in their residential properties on Friday afternoon for their safety.

“On Friday, September 21, 2012, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja and all associated facilities will close at 11:30 a.m., and the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos and all associated facilities will close at 11:00 a.m. The U.S. Mission to Nigeria takes this action solely as a precautionary measure. Protests against controversial cartoons and films have occurred in parts of Nigeria. U.S. citizens should limit their travels beyond their residential compounds during the afternoon of September 21.

The Embassy continues to work closely with Nigerian Police and security agencies, which continue to take proactive security measures to ensure public safety. U.S. Citizens in Nigeria should consider their personal security and keep personal safety in the forefront of their planning.

This year, extremists have attacked many locations in Nigeria, killing and injuring hundreds of people. They have threatened churches, mosques, media houses, police stations, immigration and customs offices, financial institutions, large hotels, shopping malls and markets, state government offices, communications centers, beer gardens, and nightclubs. Attackers have also burned and destroyed several public and private schools in Borno, and targeted several educational institutions in Kano and churches in Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, Niger, and Borno states. Additionally, extremists continue to target westerners for abduction. The security situation in the country remains fluid and unpredictable.

All U.S. citizens should use caution and discretion when deciding to attend large functions or visit establishments identified as potential targets, and respond appropriately if they detect suspicious activities. Because of ongoing security concerns within the Federal Capital Territory, U.S. citizens should continue to expect heavy traffic congestion, road blocks, and significant police/security force deployments. All U.S. citizens should remain vigilant, pay attention to their surroundings, limit exposure to large crowds, and keep their cellular telephones in close proximity for use in cases of emergency,” the mission stated.