Despite the quiet passing of the first anniversary of the Sept 11 suicide attacks on New York and Washington, security remained tight around the US, British and Australian embassies in Phnom Penh on Thursday following intelligence reports of possible attacks in the region.
The US and British embassies closed on Wednesday and security was beefed-up around the Australian and French compounds after US officials warned that militants could use truck bombs to mark the anniversary.
US officials in Phnom Penh said the embassy is likely to remain closed for the rest of the week. The British Embassy re-opened Thursday but officials said precautions would remain.
“The threat doesn’t go away just because the anniversary has passed,” a US official said.
The US elevated the threat of attack to status “Orange”—indicating a high, but not imminent, risk of attack—on Tuesday following information from detained prison Omar al-Farouq, who is considered al-Qaida’s facilitator for Southeast Asia, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Omar al-Farouq—who has been in US custody in Afghanistan since June—told interrogators same-day attacks were planned for US embassies in South Asia. However, the attacks were not tied to any date and would be carried out when most convenient, reports said.
Thirteen US embassies and consulates were closed as a result while US facilities which appeared most vulnerable were also shut down, a senior US State Department official told CNN.
The State Department official cited the sprawling US embassy in Phnom Penh, which is situated next to busy roads, and in Hanoi where a similar situation exists, CNN reported on Tuesday.