US orders non-emergency staff, families to leave Nigeria over terrorism fears

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The United States on Thursday ordered its non-emergency diplomatic staff and their families to leave the Nigerian capital Abuja, citing a “heightened risk of terrorist attacks.”

The US State Department did not specify the threat, but its country summary for Nigeria warns that “terrorists may attack with little or no warning,” targeting malls, markets, hotels, restaurants, bars or schools.

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The latest US security move comes after the embassy on Sunday urged Americans to limit their movements due to an “elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja” -- a warning repeated by Britain, Canada and Australia.

Abuja, a pre-planned capital of six million people built in the 1980s, has historically been seen as safe, but extremists linked to ISIS have claimed several attacks in surrounding areas over the past six months.

Nigeria’s domestic security agency has urged residents to stay calm and to take “necessary precautions,” with police ordering a counter-terrorism exercise in the capital.

Residents in the Abuja area, including Western diplomats, have been increasingly worried about insecurity after a mass jailbreak from Kuje, a prison on the outskirts of the city, in July.

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