US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens
Following the attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the death of the American ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff, the US Embassy in Nigeria yesterday issued an emergency warning urging its citizens to take extra caution.
The US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was killed on Wednesday along with three other US diplomats after the country’s consulate in Benghazi was attacked by protesters angered by a provocative video on Prophet Mohammed made in the US.
However, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who also spoke on the Benghazi attack Thursday, described the ambassador’s killing as the fallout of the ouster of former Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi.
The US Embassy in Nigeria, in a statement, said: “Extremists may attempt to target US citizens and other Westerners in Nigeria. The situation in Nigeria remains fluid and unpredictable.”
The embassy cautioned its citizens to take into consideration the frequent murders carried out in recent months by Boko Haram, and urged American citizens “to consider their personal security.”
Obasanjo, who was speaking on the BBC programme, Focus on Africa, said that it was too early to shout Uhuru by those who praised the Arab Spring, adding that the price for removing Gaddafi would not only be paid by Africans but all those who masterminded the way he was removed.
“I said it that there will be a price to pay in the way that all that went on in Libya” he emphasised.
On the Boko Haram insurgency, Obasanjo said it was the outcome of inadequate education, lack of employment and external elements, especially among those trained in Libya.
Irrespective of Obasanjo’s assessment, the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, on Wednesday, had ordered round-the-clock security at all foreign embassies in the country.
Nigeria also remained largely quiet, with only one small protest over the video reported in Jos.
Meanwhile, security was tightened at US embassies and consulates around the world yesterday following the attack in Libya, while the US urged its citizens abroad to be vigilant.
Guards and Police Special Forces were seen carrying assault rifles outside the US Embassy in the Philippines capital, Manila, while embassy guards gestured to a photographer to stop taking pictures.
In Yemen, however, protesters trooped into the streets chanting "death to America," and burned the American flag.
The Yemeni Embassy in Washington condemned the attack and vowed to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats and to step up security measures around their missions in the country.
On its part, the Indonesian government condemned the anti-Islam film, "Innocence of Muslims," whose trailer has gone viral on YouTube.
But there has been no public reaction so far in the world's most populous Muslim nation, even though it is prone to large protests. Officials called on Indonesians to stay calm ahead of Friday prayers, when demonstrations often take place.
The US Embassy in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, issued a security message to American citizens advising them to pay close attention to their surroundings and to avoid large crowds that might turn violent.
“These events are a reminder to all of us that the security situation in any location can change rapidly and in unexpected ways,” it said.
Indonesia's government has asked Google, which owns YouTube, to help block online access to "Innocence of Muslims," said Gatot Dewabroto, a Communication Ministry spokesman. It was available yesterday morning, but could not be viewed by afternoon.
“The movie has hurt Muslims all over the world deeply. They deliberately wanted to make Muslims angry,” said Amidan Shaberah, a prominent cleric at the influential Indonesian Ulema Council. “We urge Indonesian Muslims to calm down because the majesty and greatness of God and the Prophet Muhammad will not be diminished by these insults.”
In Malaysia, a US Embassy official said it was not the embassy's policy to comment on its security measures. But the embassy said in an advisory on its website that “based on recent events in Cairo and Benghazi, there is the possibility of demonstrations taking place in Kuala Lumpur”. The attack in Libya was preceded by violent protests in the Egyptian capital.
The embassy said it had no information about any planned demonstrations, but noted that in the past, such gatherings could occur near the embassy on Fridays.
It advised US citizens in Malaysia to “exercise general caution, be aware of their surroundings, and avoid large crowds or gatherings”.