The U.S. Diplomatic Mission in South Africa and the U.S. State Department have both recently issued a terror attack warning and travel alert to American citizens traveling or living in South Africa and Europe.
The U.S. Embassy in South Africa issued a warning Saturday that it has specific and credible information of terror groups planning to carry out attacks against U.S. citizens in the country.
Reportedly, the South African police have declined to comment, saying only that they are aware of the statement on the U.S. Embassy’s website. However, the U.S. diplomatic mission to South Africa says it is cooperating with local authorities as investigations are carried out on planned terror attacks on U.S. citizens living or traveling to South Africa.
— Sunday Times (@SundayTimesZA) June 4, 2016
According to the terror attack warning, the U.S. diplomatic mission to South Africa has said it has information that terror groups are planning near-term or imminent attacks on places in the country where U.S. citizens congregate. According to spokesperson Cynthia Harvey, this would include upscale shopping areas and malls.
“We received specific credible threat information. It’s a worldwide policy for U.S. embassies to share that information.
“We’ve got information that the Islamic State has put out a public message to carry out terror attacks globally.”
Harvey added that the protection of U.S. citizens abroad is a “top priority,” and said the embassy is working with authorities, as it does with any investigation.
Reportedly last month a message, purporting to come from the spokesman of the Islamic State, called on followers to launch attacks on the West during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins early in June.
As reported by the Rand Daily Mail, there was a similar terror attack warning last year, as the U.S. warned its citizens of a possible attack by extremists against its interests in South Africa.
Citing that warning, South Africa’s foreign affairs department noted that no incident or attack had taken place after that previous warning. The foreign affairs ministry spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, said the country’s security agencies are capable of ensuring the safety of its residents.
“The state security agency and other security agencies in this country are very much capable of keeping South Africa safe and everybody in this country, including Americans,” said Monyela.
“The last time they did this, towards the end of last year, nothing came out of that advisory,” he added.
On Saturday, the U.S. Embassy said it would remain open and Harvey stressed the terror attack warning will not affect operations at the embassy in Pretoria or the U.S. consulates in Johannesburg, Cape Town, or Durban.
— Rand Daily Mail (@rdm_za) June 4, 2016
Meanwhile in Europe earlier in the week, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert, cautioning Americans that the large influx of summer tourists, along with a series of high-profile events, “will present greater targets for terrorists planning attacks in public locations.”
“We are alerting U.S. citizens to the risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe, targeting major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers and transportation,” officials wrote.
As reported by the Independent, the alert by the U.S. State Department followed shortly after French president, François Hollande, warned that terrorism is the greatest threat to the Uefa Euro 2016 football championship, running in June and July.
France had also extended its state of emergency through to July 26 to cover both the football championship and the Tour de France cycle race.
In their terror attack warning, the State Department said that “Euro Cup stadiums, fan zones, and unaffiliated entertainment venues broadcasting the tournaments in France and across Europe represent potential targets for terrorists, as do other large-scale sporting events and public gathering places throughout Europe.”
New State Dept travel alert: Going to Europe? Wide risk of terror attacks. https://t.co/tmtT9O462U pic.twitter.com/8RvDRo4hUk
— Anne Bayefsky (@AnneBayefsky) June 1, 2016
The warning also included World Youth Day, held by the Catholic church and running from July 26 in Krakow, which is expected to attract around 2.5 million visitors.
The travel alert comes in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris last November and Brussels during March this year, killing 130 and 32 people respectively.
Following the both the Paris and Brussels terror attacks the U.S. State Department issued a global travel alert and in March, U.S. citizens were encouraged to “exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation.”
Reportedly the Europe travel alert is scheduled to expire on August 31.