UK Embassy in Kuwait closes because of 'terror threat'

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KUWAIT CITY // The British Embassy in Kuwait has partially closed until at least Sunday because of a terrorist threat, an embassy official said yesterday.

"We are aware of an increased terrorist threat," said Paul Gaskell, the Deputy Head of Mission, without giving details. "We don't take these threats lightly."

The embassy has suspended some services, such as issuing visas, until officials review the danger after the weekend.

Travel advice posted on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website says services had been suspended since Wednesday.

"Whilst the threat is targeted against the embassy itself, we cannot rule out threats against other British interests in Kuwait," the statement says.

"We therefore advise that British organisations and businesses in Kuwait review the security procedures they have in place."

The travel advice states although there is a "general threat from terrorism" in Kuwait "the overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place".

About 6,000 British expatriates live and work in Kuwait, according to the embassy's website. About 50 British companies operate in sectors such as oil, defence, construction and shipping.

British teachers are commonly found staffing the former protectorate's English-language schools and British officers help train Kuwaiti forces.

Kuwait has not seen a major terrorist incident since 2005, when security forces fought a gun battle with Al Qaeda-linked militants in a residential area of the capital.

In 2009, six Kuwaitis were arrested for suspected membership of a cell linked to Al Qaeda. The group was allegedly planning to attack several targets including Camp Arifjan, the largest US military base in the country.