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'Security concerns' keep US consular services in Saudi closed

Consular services stayed shut at US diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia on Thursday for a fifth straight day because of security fears, the American embassy said.



Riyadh: Consular services stayed shut at US diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia on Thursday for a fifth straight day because of security fears, the American embassy said.

"Due to heightened security concerns at US diplomatic facilities in Saudi Arabia, consular services will continue to be cancelled" at the embassy in Riyadh and consulates general in the west and east of the Gulf kingdom, it said in a message posted on the embassy website.

"A new security message will be sent out as soon as consular services return to normal," the embassy said, without giving specifics on the security fears.

Embassy press officer Johann Schmonsees has said that other embassy business apart from the issuing of visas by the consular services will continue as usual.

The weekend in the Muslim kingdom falls on Friday-Saturday, meaning consular services will not be restored until Sunday at the earliest.

On its website since the suspension came into effect last Sunday, the embassy has warned US citizens to take extra precautions and keep a low profile if they are out in public.

A separate caution last Friday warned that Western oil workers risked being attacked or kidnapped by "terrorist" groups.

Saudi Arabia has taken part in US-led air strikes since September against the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, raising concerns about possible retaliation in the kingdom.

Westerners have been attacked in Saudi Arabia four times since October.

In the latest incident, two American employees of US defence contractor Vinnell Arabia came under fire in the country`s east on January 30, wounding one.

In October, one Vinnell employee was shot dead and another wounded at a petrol garage in Riyadh.

From Zee News

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