Norwegian authorities changed their minds on Monday and announced that 15 embassies in North and East Africa and the Middle East would be closed to the public at least through the end of the week. They’re responding to warnings of a terrorist attack.
“Around 15 Norwegian embassies in the Middle East and North Africa … will have limited public access,” Frode O Andersen of the foreign ministry in Oslo told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday afternoon. They include embassies in Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Nairobi, in addition to several more in the Middle East.
The ministry also confirmed that Norway’s embassy in Saudi Arabia was closed to the public. The reason is what the ministry diplomatically calls “the security situation” in the area, after US intelligence sources and Norway’s own military intelligence unit E-tjenesten issued warnings during the weekend of plans for a possible terrorist attack.
“We have implemented security measures at the embassy in Saudi Arabia and at other embassies in the region,” Andersen told NRK. “For security reasons, I don’t want to go into detail about them, but a consequence is that we have limited access to the public at various embassies.”
He stressed that Norway’s embassies are still accessible via e-mail and telephone for any Norwegian citizen needing assistance.
Norway’s embassies in Yemen and Oman were also closed on Sunday in addition to the embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. They normally are open on Sundays, which is an ordinary working day in most areas of the Middle East.
Asked what was feared, Andersen confirmed that “there are warnings of a terrorist attack in the Middle East and North Africa, and because of that we have evaluated and implemented restriction of public access to our embassies.”
The US has closed 22 embassies since the threats surfaced. Germany, France, the UK and Canada have also restricted access or closed many of their embassies as well.