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U.S., U.K. take precautions in Pakistan

/ Source: The Associated Press

Terrorists threats forced the postponement Monday of the U.S. Embassy reception marking Independence Day and the closure of the British High Commission in Pakistan.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said Pakistan was giving “full protection” to the diplomatic missions in the capital, Islamabad. He declined to give details of the nature of the threat.

“Security around these two missions has been beefed up,” Khan told a news conference. “There’s no cause for worry. All the precautionary steps have been taken.”

He said the British mission had been temporarily closed. It was not immediately clear when it would reopen.

A U.S. Embassy official said the threat was against the diplomatic enclave in the capital where most foreign missions are based, rather than against a particular embassy.

The official, who requested anonymity, said a reception for foreign diplomats and Pakistani government officials scheduled at the U.S. Embassy’s high-security compound was postponed on Monday — a day after Independence Day.

The embassy was closed for the holiday Monday.

Key ally
Also, the U.S. ambassador canceled an appearance at a ceremony in Islamabad marking the write-off of some of Pakistan’s debts to the United States, but the official said that was unrelated to the security threat.

Pakistan is a key ally of Washington in its war on terror, and U.S. diplomatic facilities have been targeted in the past, particularly in the volatile southern city of Karachi.

In June 2002, a suicide car bombing by Islamic militants outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi killed 14 Pakistanis.

In March 2004, police defused a huge bomb inside a van parked outside the consulate, minutes before it was timed to explode. In May, two car bombs went off near the U.S. Consul General’s residence in Karachi, killing one person.