US pulls out diplomats from Lahore

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, Aug 9 (IANS) The US has evacuated most of its diplomats from Pakistan's Lahore metropolis following a terror threat against the US consulate there, State Department officials said.

"We have picked up what we regard as a threat worthy of taking this action," a senior official told CNN.

The State Department Thursday issued an "ordered departure" for all diplomats in Lahore, except for a few emergency personnel. The diplomats were moved to Islamabad, officials said.

A travel warning said the State Department "ordered this drawdown due to specific threats concerning the US consulate in Lahore" and warned Americans against travel to Pakistan.

"The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan," the travel warning said.

However, Omar Hameed Khan, spokesman for Pakistan's interior ministry, told CNN the Pakistan government was not aware of any security threat against the Lahore US consulate prior to America's decision to transfer the diplomats to Islamabad.

CNN said it was not clear whether the threat to the US consulate was related to a current threat against US facilities and personnel that prompted America to close several diplomatic posts throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

"We are still digging and trying to trace whether it is related," a US official said about the possible link between the heightened threat against the US.

No US diplomatic posts in Pakistan were closed due to the earlier warning.

The report said most of the Al Qaeda's core leadership is believed to reside in Pakistan, and Lahore is home to other extremists sympathetic to the group.

Lahore is also well-known as a base for the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Over the last decade, the US has waged a persistent campaign against terrorism in Pakistan, using drones and working with the Pakistani military and intelligence.