Britain recalled many of its diplomats from Pakistan on Wednesday and advised other British nationals to leave the country out of concern for their security.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw would not say whether Britain had received specific threats but pointed to the recent attacks on Americans and French nationals in Pakistan by suspected Islamic extremists.
"We will begin reducing the number of staff and dependents in Pakistan with immediate effect," Straw said. He added the Foreign Office was advising against all but essential travel to Pakistan.
A car bomb explosion in Karachi, Pakistan, killed 11 French engineers and three Pakistanis, including the presumed suicide bomber, on May 8. Two months earlier, four worshippers at a Protestant church in Islamabad, including a U.S. Embassy employee and her 17-year-old daughter, were killed in a grenade attack.
After the church attack, the United States ordered its embassy dependents and nonessential staff in Pakistan to leave. Many people in predominantly Muslim Pakistan are opposed to the U.S. campaign in neighboring Afghanistan, although Pakistan's government supports the war on terrorism.
The British ambassador, Hilary Synnott, will remain in the country, but the number of diplomats, staff and family members attached to Britain's embassy in Islamabad will be cut from about 210 to about 80, the Foreign Office said.
There will be similar cuts at the British consulates in Karachi and Lahore, two Pakistani cities where the United States also has scaled back its diplomatic presence.
The Foreign Office said the measure was not "directly" linked to the growing tension between India and Pakistan.
(Xinhua News Agency May 23, 2002)