Citing 'security considerations,' US to close embassies

The State Department announced Thursday that it would close “certain” embassies and consulates on Sunday out of unspecified “security considerations.”

The department didn't specificy which posts would be closed or why, but U.S. officials told NBC News the threat originated in the Middle East and mentioned al Qaeda. Already, the posts in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar have put out messages informing the public that they will be closed on Sunday, which is a workday in many Muslim countries.

“The Department of State has instructed certain U.S. embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4th,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “The department has been apprised of information that out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installation, that indicates we should institute these precautionary steps. The department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety.”

Harf said the department takes such actions “from time to time.” She did attach a particular significance to the Aug. 4 date.

“It's specifically August 4th. It is possible we may have additional days of closing as well, of course, depending on our analysis,” she said. “Individual U.S. embassies and consulates will announce whether or not they are open and whether they're implementing restrictions or other measures.”

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