As the most visible symbols of U.S. foreign policy around the world, embassies have always been a target for political violence. Last weekend’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Peshawar was just the most recent example. But embassies are addressing their vulnerabilities, as the Peshawar case shows: While two consulate employees were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside, the casualties could have been much worse if gunmen had breached the mission’s heavily guarded gate. Following are five U.S. facilities around the world that are ramping up security in response to worsening local conditions.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Risks: Located in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahuá, Ciudad Juarez has long been at the center of Mexico’s broiling drug war. In the past year, more than 2,600 people were killed in drug-related violence in the city. The U.S. consulate workers in Ciudad Juarez, who spend much of their time handling immigration affairs and adjudicating more than 800 passport cases a day, are not immune from the violence. On March 15, the American public was reminded of this fact when gunmen suspected of working for a drug cartel shot and killed an American consulate worker and two others Mexican employees on their way back from a children’s birthday party. According to the New York Times, this was the first time that drug gang members had intentionally targeted U.S. government employees.
Precaution: In response to the attack, the consulate has authorized the departure of consular employees' family members and publicly urged U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Ciudad Juarez and all other cities in the restive state of Chihuahua. Even with the ongoing sweep operations that FBI and DEA agents are conducting against drug gangs in the area, the consulate continues to impose a de facto curfew and restrict its employees' movements.