US embassy operations back to normal

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pretoria - Operations are back to normal at the United States (US) embassy in Pretoria after staff was evacuated from the building this morning.

A heavy police presence and helicopters were seen at the US embassy this morning, with reports alleging that it was due to a bomb scare.

Spokeswoman Sharon Hudson-Dean told BuaNews that the embassy "is not commenting on the specifics."

She added that that the embassy has a series of routine and non-routine procedures, including regular drills.

However, Hudson-Dean said security remains heightened. "We work closely with South African law enforcement officials," she said.

Last month, the US embassy and offices across the country closed their doors for two days due to a security threat.

It is unclear at this stage if today's incident is related. However several newspaper reports claim that there was a link between the embassy shutting down and a possible Al-Qaeda terrorist threat.

Reacting to this, International Relations Director General, Ayanda Ntsaluba said they have been assured by police and security officials that the alleged matter of a security threat was receiving the attention it deserved.

Ntsaluba said South Africa had successfully hosted major events before and had a blueprint for doing so, despite negative media reports.

Ntsaluba added that the country's security services were already working with US counterparts, adding that should the reports be true, then that would be unfortunate.