KUWAIT CITY (AP) – Kuwait’s two main American schools announced yesterday that they will suspend classes, and foreign companies considered evacuations – signs that threats of terrorism and a possible U.S.-led attack on Iraq are unnerving Westerners living in this oil-rich emirate.

Americans and other foreigners have begun to leave Kuwait, heeding a U.S. State Department recommendation. Several said they feared for their families’ safety following an Iraqi threat to attack Kuwait if the United States launches a war, considered likely in the coming weeks.

Oil companies British Petroleum, Texaco and Chevron were reportedly holding meetings yesterday and today to decide whether to evacuate their staffs.

The moves followed three recent attacks on U.S. citizens in Kuwait that killed one U.S. Marine and an American businessman working on a contract with the U.S. Army. Kuwaiti Muslim extremists are suspected in two of the attacks.

“I’m worried that one of these fanatics will see an American woman with her kids and try to take a potshot at us,” said Sharon Margolis, a Californian who has lived in Kuwait for 20 years but now says she may leave with her four sons and Kuwaiti husband.

A survey by The Associated Press of international schools elsewhere in the Middle East – including Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – found no other institutions with firm plans to close because of fears of a war in Iraq.

But Kuwait is especially vulnerable because the small emirate lies within range of Iraqi missiles and is a major staging area for U.S. forces preparing for a possible war.

An estimated 30,000 U.S. troops have already assembled in this country of 2.3 million people, and tens of thousands more are expected.

The American School of Kuwait and the American International School – which together provide classes to about 270 American children as well as about 2,000 kids of other nationalities – will shut their doors from Feb. 10 to March 22. School officials said the closures are a result of tensions in the Persian Gulf and war fears among American teachers.

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