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Americans in Saudi Arabia relocated after threat

Saudi Arabia
Department of State
Acts of terror

(CNN) -- An unspecified threat has prompted U.S. officials to move American residents in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to another location, a statement from the U.S. Consulate said.

The so-called warden message, released by the consulate on Tuesday, warned of an elevated threat "in the area of the Sierra Village compound." The message offered no further details.

The U.S. Consulate in Jeddah was the target of terrorists in December when nine people were killed in an attack by gunmen. The dead included four terrorists and five non-American consular employees, U.S. officials said.

A group later claiming responsibility for the attack called itself the Qaeda al Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula. (Full story)

In August, a vehicle from the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah was hit by gunfire from a single assailant while driving in the city. The two occupants of the vehicle -- the driver and an American employee of the consulate -- were not injured in the attack.

U.S. Consul General Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley said Wednesday that the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah was open for normal business, despite the warning.

Americans who live and work in the area "are advised to maintain a heightened level of vigilance and continue varying times and routes when traveling," the warden message said.

Abercrombie-Winstanley said in general that Americans working in the private sector have been urged to leave Saudi Arabia since April of 2004.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. State Department renewed its worldwide caution for all Americans living outside the United States.

"The Department of State is deeply concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests abroad, as well as the potential for demonstrations and violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas," a statement said.

"The Department of State remains concerned by indications that al Qaeda and affiliated groups continue to prepare to strike U.S. interests abroad."

Attacks against Americans and other Westerners in the Saudi kingdom have increased during the past two years. In June of 2004, U.S. citizen Paul Johnson was kidnapped and beheaded while working in Saudi Arabia.

He was an engineer for Lockheed Martin Corp. in the capital, Riyadh, when he was abducted by al Qaeda terrorists. (Full story)

Al Qaeda-led suicide attacks struck Riyadh housing compounds in May of 2003 and the following July, killing 40 people, most of them Muslims.

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