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Pakistan security fears grow as US evacuates staff

Lahore consulate targeted with 'specific threat'

Pakistan security fears grow as US evacuates staff

A man injured by a bomb attack in Quetta is loaded into a truck (AFP photo/Banras Khan) reporter, Bangkok

August 9, 2013

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The US has withdrawn all non-emergency staff from its consulate in Lahore, citing a “specific threat” days after Washington announced similar measures for 19 embassies across the Middle East and North Africa.

So far it is unclear whether the threat against the Lahore consulate is related to that in the Middle East, which US officials say was picked up via nonspecific “terrorist chatter”.

Lahore staff have been moved to Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, while US citizens have been urged to refrain from travelling to the country.

Terrorist groups in Pakistan have used lethal drone attacks by the US military as a battle cry for militants, particularly in the restive tribal areas close to the Afghanistan border.

Pakistan has been rocked by a spate of bombings, the most recent occurring yesterday in the southwestern city of Quetta at the funeral of a police officer who had been shot dead hours before. The attack, carried out by a suicide bomber, claimed up to 38 lives, mostly policemen.

"The death toll may rise because the condition of most of the injured is critical," Baluchistan province police chief Mushtaq Sukhera told a news conference.

The Pakistan's umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban faction, which rarely attacks in the southwest, has claimed responsibility.

"We did it and soon you see another big attack in the next coming days," spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid said, according to the AFP news agency.

He added that the attack was to avenge victims of US drone strikes, which target Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt, on the Afghan border north of Baluchistan.

"We are at war with police and other security agencies,” he said. “They are attacking us and we are targeting them."

The incident came a day after 28 people, including senior police and military officials, were killed and dozens of people were wounded in separate bomb and gun attacks across Pakistan at the culmination of the holy month of Ramadan.

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