MANILA, Philippines – Security was increased at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, and at least one cemetery for American veterans, on Thursday following an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador in Libya.
Guards and police special forces were seen carrying assault rifles outside the U.S. Embassy in the Philippine capital. Embassy guards gestured to a photographer to stop taking pictures.
Diplomats had asked for additional police personnel and patrols for the season compound and a nearby residential complex, as well as the consulate in the central city of Cebu, ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. Officials said the heightened security will be maintained indefinitely following the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed the ambassador and three other people.
President Barack Obama ordered increased security at American missions around the world after the killings and angry protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
In Malaysia, a U.S. Embassy official said it was not the embassy's policy to comment on its security measures. But the embassy said in an advisory on its website that "based on recent events in Cairo and Benghazi, there is the possibility of demonstrations taking place in Kuala Lumpur."
The embassy said it had no information about any planned demonstrations but noted that in the past, such gatherings could occur near the embassy on Fridays. It advised U.S. citizens in Malaysia to "exercise general caution, be aware of their surroundings, and avoid large crowds or gatherings."
In Manila, traffic was busy as usual on a boulevard in front of the embassy's main entrance. A police pickup truck with a machine gun mounted on the back was parked under a tree, and Philippine coast guard vessels patrolled Manila Bay around the embassy. Police patrols were also intensified in other U.S. facilities, including the American cemetery in the Philippine capital.
"President Obama yesterday directed an increase in security at diplomatic posts around the world, and this includes our embassy here in Manila," said embassy spokeswoman Tina Malone.
Americans flags were lowered at half-staff as U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. mourned the loss of the American diplomats in Libya.
"We will do our best to honor and carry forward their memory and their service," he said in a statement.