Terrorism fears in Bahrain have forced the cancellation of Fourth of July celebrations, the U.S. Embassy announced Saturday, as the Navy prepared to evacuate families of service members and nonessential personnel from the tiny Persian Gulf island state.
The measures follow a U.S. State Department advisory on Thursday cautioning Americans against traveling to Bahrain, home of the U.S. 5th Fleet, and advising those who live there to leave.
On Friday, the Pentagon said it is withdrawing service members’ families and nonessential personnel from Bahrain for at least 30 days in response to intelligence on planned attacks by terrorists.
The warnings did not elaborate on the reported threats except to say terrorists were at large and the information was credible.
“We are still waiting for a formal order to execute the departure,” said Cmdr. James Graybeal, spokesman of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.
Graybeal said about 350 families of U.S. military personnel live in Bahrain. The Pentagon has said they will be taken to unspecified locations in the continental United States and not be allowed to return to Bahrain until the mandatory withdrawal order is terminated.
“We take force protection very seriously and we are constantly doing things to make sure service member and families are protected,” Graybeal said without elaborating.
Citing security reasons, the U.S. Embassy announced in a faxed statement that a Fourth of July reception that was scheduled to take place at a hotel in the Bahraini capital, Manama.
U.S. Embassy and Bahraini officials could not be reached for comment.
Bahrain has stepped up security on a 15-mile causeway that links the country to Saudi Arabia amid fears terrorists may be planning to attack the bridge. There are also fears that Saudi militants, under pressure from their security forces, might see Bahrain as an easier place to attack Western targets.