US warns of possible attack in SA targeting Americans

The embassy said it had no specific info, but advised US citizens to review their personal security plans.

FILE: A rare security alert in a stable democracy seldom associated with Islamist militancy. Picture: stock.xchng.

JOHANNESBURG - The United States warned its citizens on Tuesday of a possible attack by "extremists" against US facilities or interests in South Africa, a rare security alert in a stable democracy seldom associated with Islamist militancy.

In a statement on its website, the embassy said it had no information about a specific target or timing, but advised US citizens to review their personal security plans and maintain their vigilance.

The statement read: "Review your personal security plans; remain aware and vigilant of your surroundings, including local events, monitor local news stations for updates and follow instructions from local authorities."

The US Diplomatic Mission says it received information that extremists may be targeting US interests in South Africa.

An embassy spokesperson was unavailable to be interviewed.

In 2009 US diplomatic missions were closed following a threat from Somali terror group al-Shabaab.

LESOTHO

In February this year, the US embassy issued a travel warning to its citizens travelling to Lesotho ahead of elections at the Mountain Kingdom.

The embassy urged citizens to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation throughout the electoral period.

Lesotho's political parties had agreed to hold early elections in February 2015 due to the political and security crisis in late 2014.

US citizens were also advised to maintain a high level of security awareness during the electoral period and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, polling stations, and crowds of any kind, and told to be aware that even peaceful gatherings and demonstrations could turn violent.

Much like in this current South African situation, US citizens were told to review their personal security plans; remain aware of their surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.

SA CRIME WARNING

In June 2013, the US state department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security issued a warning to tourists by the United States said Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town were "critical crime threat spots".

The warning read: "Violent and confrontational crime is a major concern [in South Africa]. Such crimes include home invasion robberies, burglaries, car-jackings, street muggings, smash-and-grabs, organised attacks on commercial and retail centres, bombings of ATMs, as well as attacks on cash-in-transit vehicles and personnel."

Visitors were also warned that South African criminals did not hesitate to use lethal weapons and that townships were to be avoided.

US Embassy claimed safety and security reports were standard practice in all countries where the US foreign affairs department provided consular services to its citizens, and were not limited to South Africa.