December 1, 2022

U.S. warns terrorists may be planning to attack Johannesburg in South Africa

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The United States government warned on October 26 that terrorists may be planning to attack Johannesburg in South Africa on October 29.

“The U.S. government has received information that terrorists may be planning to conduct an attack targeting large gatherings of people at an unspecified location in the greater Sandton area of Johannesburg, South Africa, on 29 October 2022,” read a security alert read by the U.S. Embassy in South Africa. “There is no further information regarding the timing, method, or target of the potential attack.”

The U.S. Embassy said it has advised staff to avoid crowds of people and other large public gatherings in the greater Sandton area of Johannesburg during the weekend of 29-30 October 2022.

The United States government announced on October 24 that there was an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja, and that the U.S. Embassy will offer reduced services until further notice. 

“Targets may include, but are not limited to, government buildings, places of worship, schools, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, athletic gatherings, transport terminals, law enforcement facilities, and international organizations,” the U.S. embassy in Abuja said in a security alert.

The State Department also commented on the possible terror attack in Nigeria during a press briefing in Washington D.C. on October 26.

“There’s not much that I can say beyond what the embassy has released publicly,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said when asked to provide further assessment of the risk. “And yesterday, Mission Nigeria distributed and posted online a security alert stating that there is, quote, “an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja.” 

“The embassy there will offer reduced services until further notice. We take our responsibility when it comes to providing timely, accurate information to the American citizen community there and everywhere around the world very seriously. We take seriously our commitment to have no double standard when there is information available to us. In this case, we provided timely notification of the security alert and the fact that the embassy will be offering reduced services for the time being,” Price said. 

The U.S. Embassy in Abuja urged Americans to avoid all non-essential travel or movement, stay alert and avoid crowds. They should also carry proper identification and review their personal security plans and keep their cell phones charged in case of an emergency.

At a press briefing on Friday, October 28, Ned Price was asked to comment on both security alerts and on the concern raised by South Africa on a lack of communication from the U.S. side.

“To what extent has the United States been in touch with these two countries about the security situation? To what extent do you believe that they have the situation under control?” the reporter asked.

Price said that the United States no higher priority than the safety and security of American citizens around the world.

He said, “When it comes to the question you raised about Nigeria and South Africa, of course we have no higher priority than the safety and security of American citizens around the world.

“That, of course, includes individuals, Americans, who are working in our embassies, in missions around the world. We also have a responsibility to the American citizen community around the world that we provide them with timely notification when we have information available to us regarding a potential threat. We take the – our obligation to the so-called “no double standard” extraordinarily seriously. So in that vein, when we are in possession of information regarding a potential threat, we do provide it to American personnel. We take steps – prudent steps to mitigate the threat, but also to inform the public.

“And with that in mind, effective October 27th, our embassy in Abuja went on ordered departure status for eligible family members. The authorized departure status remains in place as of now for non-emergency U.S. direct hires in Abuja. We made that decision to recommend ordered departure for EFMs in Abuja out of an abundance of caution – as we said before – related to an elevated risk of terrorist – of terror attacks in Nigeria. And we’ve put out attendant messaging to the American citizen community.

“We do cooperate closely with countries around the world – certainly close partners like South Africa, like Nigeria – on shared security concerns. And any potential threat in either country could well pose a shared threat to our interests as well. We’ve been in close contact with Nigerian authorities. We appreciate the effort of our Nigerian partners to address security threats in Abuja and across the country. The same is true of our relationship with South Africa. We have a close relationship with our South African partners, and we deeply appreciate efforts that they make to protect their interests, and in turn, our interests in the country as well.”

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