US suspends visa services in Pakistan 4

WASHINGTON: The United States Thursday suspended visa services at consular offices in Pakistan citing deepening concerns over security after the deadly Islamabad hotel bombing, the State Department said.

“Consular services have been temporarily suspended as of today,” State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.

“We are very concerned about the security situation. We had the attack on the Marriott Hotel almost a week ago, and it’s of great concern,” he said.

A suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with more than half a tonne of explosives into the hotel’s security gates on Saturday, killing at least 60 people, including two US military personnel assigned to the US embassy and the Czech ambassador to Pakistan. More than 250 people were wounded in the blast.

A State Department official, who asked not to be named, said visa services had been suspended in response to threats against American interests.

“There is not a specific threat, but there are a number of threats and that’s what we’re responding to,” the official said.

“We’ll be evaluating the security situation over the next couple of days and weeks, but there’s a lot of chatter out there and we’re obviously very worried about it,” he said, using the term referring to intercepted telecommunications and cyber-space dialogue.

Wood stressed the suspension of consular services would not affect emergency services for US citizens in Pakistan.

US consular offices in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad were affected by the suspension.

The News, Updated at: 2250 PST, Thursday, September 25, 2008  

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