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Thu 20 Oct 2011 02:28 PM

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UK embassy in Kuwait suspends operations after threat

Embassy warns of security risk to other British interests in the Gulf Arab state

UK embassy in Kuwait suspends operations after threat
British interests in Kuwait may also be at risk, the embassy said

The British embassy in Kuwait said it had temporarily suspended operations because of a security threat, and warned other British organisations in the Gulf Arab state they could also be at risk.

"Whilst the threat is targeted against the embassy itself, we cannot rule out threats against other British interests in Kuwait," the statement dated Wednesday, Oct 19, and posted on the embassy website, said.

"We therefore advise that British organisations and businesses in Kuwait review the security procedures they have in place," it added.

OPEC member Kuwait hosts Camp Arifjan, a vast US logistics base in the desert south of the capital that serves as a staging post for US forces being deployed in neighbouring Iraq.

Kuwait said in April an Iranian spy cell uncovered last year had monitored the US military presence and possessed explosives to attack "strategic" facilities.

A source at Kuwait's foreign ministry source said he did not know the precise nature of the security threat against Britain, but did not expect the measures to last for long.

"They [the embassy] will resume operations on Sunday," the source said.

The British embassy said there was a general threat from terrorism in Kuwait adding that "terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region", including references to attacks on Western residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests.

No warning has been seen on the US embassy website.

Kuwait's emir in June said the Gulf Arab state would show "zero tolerance" to anyone threatening the OPEC oil exporter's security, after the opposition held weekly rallies demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah step down.

A generous welfare system has enabled Kuwait to avoid the mass protests that have forced out the rulers of Egypt and Tunisia.

But the Gulf Arab state has endured a long political stalemate, and opposition has built up against Sheikh Nasser, an influential member of the ruling family. Several hundred people have held weekly peaceful rallies to demand his resignation.

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