Heavy security in Guyana after unusual US warning

AP News
Posted: Feb 10, 2014 4:21 PM

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — International flights departed from Guyana under heavier than normal security Monday following an unusual threat alert from the U.S. government.

Police and soldiers joined regular airport security at the main international airport in the South American country to conduct security screenings of all travelers, Transport Minister Robeson Benn said.

"We have really heightened the level of security in the face of the threat," Benn said in an interview.

Three Caribbean Airlines flights departed for New York without incident. The transportation minister told parliament that there were 13 fewer passengers than on a typical day because of the warning.

The U.S. Embassy said on its website Sunday that it had received "unconfirmed threat information" relating to Caribbean Airlines flights bound for the U.S. It advised U.S. citizens in Guyana with plans to return home that they should make alternate travel arrangements through Wednesday.

U.S. officials provided no details on the threat, but Benn said it stemmed from an anonymous phone call made to Caribbean Airlines in Barbados last week.

Earlier, a spokesman for Caribbean Airlines, which is based in Trinidad and Tobago, said the company had been aware of the reported threat since Friday and had increased security while maintaining normal operations.

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Guyana is hosting international visitors this week of the Heads of Islamic Cultural Centers and Associations in Latin America and the Caribbean. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, speaking to reporters in Washington, said the threat was not related to that meeting.

Harf said the warning was issued because of a U.S. policy that requires the government to share information about any credible and specific threat. He said officials took the step out of "an abundance of caution."