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U.S. tightens security at W. Africa embassies

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Security tightened noticeably at U.S. embassies across West Africa on Friday, one day after the State Department temporarily closed six missions because of fears of terrorist attacks.

Gendarmes cordoned off three streets surrounding the shuttered U.S. Embassy in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, rerouting traffic through a key part of the bustling downtown and angering commuters and motorists."This is an American problem. I don't understand why we should be forced to suffer inconvenience because of that," said a local jewelry seller who refused to give his name. He said police forced him to move his stall.

Although the embassy in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's commercial capital, remained open on Friday, U.S. Marine guards and security men swept electronic detectors across the engines of vehicles entering the embassy. Several nearby roads were blocked off.

However, an officer stationed outside the U.S. Embassy in Lome, Togo, said that security already was tight and had not been beefed up.

The other U.S. embassies shut down were in Madagascar, Liberia, Namibia and Gambia. A decision would be made over the weekend on whether they will be reopened Monday.

Britain also closed four of its African embassies -- Gambia, Namibia, Madagascar and Senegal -- on Friday because of a possible security threat.

The United States and Britain did not cite any specific threats or terrorist organizations, but a Gambian official said American officials feared Osama bin Laden was plotting another attack on U.S. embassies.

Bin Laden, the suspected Saudi terrorist, believed to be in Afghanistan, is wanted for last year's embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.