LAGOS (Reuters) – The United States closed its Nigerian embassy in Abuja and consulate in Lagos on Friday due to a "security incident" which is being investigated by Nigerian police, an embassy spokesman said.
A diplomatic source said intelligence indicated that foreign militants posed a specific threat to the U.S. presence in Nigeria, the world”s eighth largest oil exporter which was named by Osama bin Laden as a candidate for "liberation."
"The embassy is reacting to a security incident and we thought it prudent to close," said an embassy spokesman, adding that he had no information on the nature of the incident.
Nigerian police were acting on information provided by the United States and the results of their investigation would be made public, the spokesman said.
The diplomatic source said the embassy had received information from foreign Islamic militant channels on a specific threat to the Lagos consulate.
"This is not a Nigerian source and there is not necessarily Nigerian participation, but we can”t be sure of that," the source said.
Britain also closed its Nigerian High Commission office in Lagos due to a "security reason," a spokesman said.
Nigeria”s population of 140 million people are divided roughly evenly between Muslims and Christians and the country has a long history of religious bloodshed.
However, diplomats and analysts say there has been up to now no evidence of Osama bin Laden”s al Qaeda group in the country.
One small home-grown Islamic sect known as the "Talibans" staged a series of attacks on government offices and police stations in the remote northeast at the end of 2003, calling for the imposition of an Islamic state.