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U.S. Embassy in Beijing issues 'threats against Westerners' warning

By Andrew V. Pestano
U.S. Embassy in Beijing issues 'threats against Westerners' warning
The U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued a rare alert on Thursday warning of threats against Westerners who were in the capital's Sanlitun area -- causing several other embassies to follow suit. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said officials are aware of the alerts. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

BEIJING, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued a rare alert on Thursday warning of threats against Westerners who were in the capital's Sanlitun area -- causing several other embassies to follow suit.

"The U.S. Embassy has received information of possible threats against Westerners in the Sanlitun area of Beijing, on or around Christmas Day. U.S. citizens are urged to exercise heightened vigilance," the embassy said in a notice. "The U.S. Embassy has issued the same guidance to U.S. government personnel."

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The Sanlitun area is a popular district that houses a shopping mall and several restaurants. Since the American warning, the British, French and Australian embassies have also issued similar warnings.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said officials are aware of the alerts.

"Relevant Chinese departments have always attached great importance to social security work, and spared no effort in protecting the safety of Chinese citizens and foreign institutes and their staff in China," Hong told CNN.

Beijing police increased their presence at large- and medium-size malls but did not connect it to the warning, instead the Public Security Bureau said it took the measure due to increased traffic during Christmas.

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