Nigeria urges residents to stay calm and take "necessary precautions," with police ordering a counterterrorism exercise in Abuja, where US and UK warn of possible terror attacks.

Nigerian capital Abuja has historically been seen as safe but insurgents linked to Daesh have claimed several attacks in surrounding areas over the past six months.
Nigerian capital Abuja has historically been seen as safe but insurgents linked to Daesh have claimed several attacks in surrounding areas over the past six months. (TRTWorld)

Nigerians have expressed worry over security alerts issued by the US and British embassies that warned of a heightened risk of terrorist attacks, especially in the capital Abuja aimed at government buildings, places of worship and schools, among other targets.

On Tuesday, the US authorised the departure of diplomats from the Nigerian capital Abuja, stepping up precautions over what it said was the threat of attacks.

"The US Embassy Abuja continues to have limited ability to provide emergency assistance to US citizens in Nigeria," the State Department said. 

The British embassy has also warned their nationals in the capital to be vigilant.

"You should avoid places where crowds gather, including political meetings, religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs (including train networks) and camps for displaced people," said the UK embassy’s advisory.

Nigeria's Department of State Services said the United States had previously issued similar warnings and urged citizens to remain alert.

Insecurity, which is rife across most Nigerian states, is a major issue among voters who will choose a new president next February.

The United States did not specify the threat. 

'It is really frightening'

Abuja, a pre-planned capital of six million people built in the 1980s, has historically been seen as safe but insurgents linked to Daesh have claimed several attacks in surrounding areas over the past six months.

Nigeria's domestic security agency has urged residents to stay calm and to take "necessary precautions," with police ordering a counterterrorism exercise in Abuja.

Nureni Amodu, an Abuja-based journalist, told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that most residents are in a panic.

"I avoid traffic like most residents now. It is really frightening. There is panic now in Abuja," he said.

Additional security personnel has been assigned to guard offices of political parties in the capital, said a security source.

Some elementary and secondary private schools have also shut down operations in fear, despite assurances by the authorities, the former head of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools said.

The police said in a statement that they have activated a counterterrorism special operations squad for the nation's capital and will hold a counterterrorism exercise on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The extra security measures followed recent alerts by some foreign missions in Nigeria about possible terrorist attacks," said spokesperson Olumuyiwa Adejobi.

He said the police will collaborate with other security agencies to ensure the safety of the people in the capital and other parts of the country.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies