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US Closes Facilities in S. Africa Over Security Concerns


South Africa's top crime fighter says police are in control of the situation after the United States closed all its facilities in the country on security concerns.

Police Commissioner Bheki Cele told a media briefing in Cape Town the national police service is working closely with the US Embassy after all US facilities were closed Tuesday.

"Our intelligence has had meetings...with American personnel...and we are working on it. It happen[ed] [a] few hours, less than 24 [hours ago]. There are things that have happened, there are things that are happening and we are in constant contact with them, so we cannot begin to release, what have we done, and what is happening, as we are seated here," Cele said.

Earlier, embassy spokeswoman Sharon Hudson-Dean told local media the facilities were closed following a report from the regional security office based at the Embassy in Pretoria. Hudson-Dean said she would not discuss any details of what had prompted the move.

Cele said all possibilities were being checked, including that the threat might be a hoax. But he said arrests will follow if concrete evidence is found and told reporters the police are pursuing some individuals.

South Africa has not been seen as a major terrorism risk, but the developments have served as a reminder that U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacked in 1998, resulting in 224 deaths.

Any threat of terrorism on South African soil is likely to be of serious concern to the government, as the country prepares to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup next June.

The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria has issued a warning to Americans in South Africa to be extra vigilant in the vicinity of any U.S. facilities, including the Embassy and Consulates General in Durban and Cape Town.

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