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US Embassy in Congo shut down over 'credible, serious' terrorist threat

The U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been shut down all week, after a credible terrorist threat was made targeting the facility. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

The U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo was shut down Monday and remains closed after officials determined that a terrorist threat to the facility is both "credible" and "serious."

What are the details?

On Saturday, the embassy in Kinshasa issued a security alert for U.S. citizens after receiving "credible and specific information of a possible terrorist threat against U.S. Government facilities." The U.S. Mission has been closed all week out of precaution.

Earlier this week, a spokesman for the Congolese government accused U.S. officials of blowing smoke over a perceived "imaginary alert," Reuters reported. But on Friday, Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu said that, after meeting with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, he's convinced the threat is legitimate.

"It's clear these threats are serious," Okitundu said during a news conference. "The U.S. and our services have serious information regarding the validity of the threat. For the moment, there is coordination between the security services of the U.S., regional countries and Congo."

Okitundu refused to provide further details, but U.S. officials reportedly told foreign diplomats that the embassy shutdown was due to last week's arrest of jihadis from the Islamic rebel group known as the Allied Democratic Forces.

The ADF has been fighting the Congolese military, and the group has been linked to the violence against medical workers desperately trying to battle the ongoing Ebola outbreak plaguing the central African nation.

The country's health ministry announced Thursday that the current outbreak has become the second largest in history, with 426 confirmed and probable cases.

Anything else?

In addition to internal terrorist threats, Congo's political climate is tense. The country is gearing up for a presidential election next month — which has been delayed for two years despite protests from citizens.

Militia violence has increased in the country since dozens of protesters were killed by security forces while demonstrating against the government's suspension of the election.

Incumbent President Joseph Kabila was first elected in 2006 and was granted a second term in office in 2011. Kabila announced that he would not step down when his extended term is over.

One last thing…
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