US orders families of embassy employees to depart Nigeria due to heightened risk of terrorism
NIGERIA (Reuters) – At least three American officials and two Nigerians on their way to a U.S. Embassy event in Nigeria have been killed in the past week in attacks by Islamist militants, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.
The attack on Monday on a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Niger’s northern Agadez region, in which two Nigerian soldiers were killed, happened as the State Department ordered a halt on all travel to the country, the Department said.
The State Department on Monday put the three Americans it identified as Kurt W. Schmucker, a U.S. Embassy security contractor, Michael P. Meehan and Kevin F. P. Van Wagenen on heightened alert for the possible abduction and possible ransom of Americans abroad, including in Nigeria. The U.S. Embassy in Abuja, the capital, confirmed their deaths.
Nigeria’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said on Monday that his country, where Boko Haram Islamists are waging a seven-year insurgency, had put all diplomatic, political and military staff from the United States on high alert.
In a statement, the State Department said three U.S. citizens had died over the past four days, including one in a helicopter crash in the remote Azezo region of Nigeria, which is considered the most dangerous place for Americans in Africa.
The State Department said at least two Americans had died in attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram on U.S. military vehicles and bases.
“The U.S. Embassy and consular services in Abuja, and the U.S. Embassy in Abuja’s consulates-general in Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Tunisia – now under heightened alerts – are reviewing all security measures,” a State Department official said.
On Monday, the Pentagon said that U.S. service members had been evacuated from northern Niger and that they had “probable” access to the U.S. Consulate in Agadez, Niger’s third biggest city and the capital of neighboring Algeria