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US closes two consulates in Pakistan

Pakistani police officers stand near the US consulate as security is beefed up after killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, in Karachi, Pakistan on Monday, May 2, 2011. Bin Laden, the glowering mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of people, was slain in his luxury hideout in Pakistan early Monday in a firefight with US forces, ending a manhunt that spanned a frustrating decade. — AP Photo

ISLAMABAD: The United States closed two of its consulates in Pakistan to the public on Tuesday until further notice, a day after Osama bin Laden was killed near the capital Islamabad.

The US embassy in Islamabad and a third consulate in Karachi had earlier also been closed to the general public for routine business, but a decision was taken Tuesday for them to re-open as normal, said an embassy spokesman.

Those closed are in the eastern city of Lahore and the northwestern city of Peshawar, which is close to the country's tribal belt that Washington has called the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.

A statement said the embassy and all consulates, however, would remain open for “other business and for emergency American citizen services”.

The statement came amid fears of reprisals after Al-Qaeda leader bin Laden was killed in a helicopter and ground raid by US special forces on a compound 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Pakistani capital on Monday.

The US State Department issued a global travel alert to all its citizens following the death of bin Laden, saying there could be an outbreak of anti-American violence.

“The US Department of State alerts US citizens travelling and residing abroad to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan,” it said in a statement.

It added that the warning would remain in effect until August 1.

Pakistan's main Taliban faction has promised to avenge bin Laden's death and attack “American and Pakistani governments and their security forces”.

Pakistan has already beefed up security across major cities, diplomatic installations and around the site of the killing in Abbottabad.

More troops were deployed in Islamabad to safeguard government offices and the city's diplomatic enclave, while in Lahore and Karachi, the two biggest cities, extra road blocks and barbed wire were laid around sensitive buildings.

Hundreds of people took to the streets on Monday in the southwestern city of Quetta, close to neighbouring Afghanistan, to denounce America, burn a US flag and pay homage to the Al-Qaeda mastermind.

“His martyrdom will not end the movement, it will continue and thousands more bin Ladens will be born,” said federal lawmaker Maulawi Asmatullah, who led the protest.

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