In view of the wave of protests targeting United States Embassies as a result of a film shot in California which Muslims have found insulting, the United States has issued a warning to its citizens in Nigeria that they might be likely targets. The protests took a rather sad turn on Tuesday night when gunmen stormed the US Consulate in Benghazi and killed the American Ambassador to Libya as well as three other staff of the Consul. The protest started in Cairo, Egypt and has spread across to Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Gaza. The US Mission issued the warning in a statement late on Wednesday urging American citizens in Nigeria to tread with caution. The statement reads inter alia:
” The U.S. Mission reminds citizens of the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Violent and deadly demonstrations and attacks occurred in Cairo, Egypt, and Benghazi, Libya, during the past 24 hours, including a lethal attack against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Extremists may attempt to target U.S citizens and other Westerners in Nigeria. The U.S. Mission in Nigeria strongly urges U.S. citizens in Nigeria to consider their personal security and to keep personal safety in the forefront of their planning.
Last week, extremists attacked cellular telephone towers in Northern Nigeria, damaging over 30 towers and degrading cellular telephone and internet communications nationwide. Additional attacks could further weaken the ability of citizens to communicate through cellular telephones and the internet. Land line telephone communications in Nigeria remain limited. U.S. citizens should attempt to arrange for multiple means of communication during emergencies.
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. As such, the 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”.