By Aaron Smith
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Yum! Brands is shuttering all of its KFC franchises in Pakistan in the wake of anti-American protests there, after one of its KFC restaurants was attacked in Lebanon last week, the company said Friday.
“Our KFC restaurants in Pakistan are closing as a precautionary measure,” said Yum! Brands spokesman Christopher Fuller. “They will continually monitor the situation to decide when to re-open.”
KFC has more than 60 restaurants in 21 Pakistani cities, and has a significant presence throughout the Muslim world. A division of the company called KFC Arabia has franchises in 11 Middle Eastern cities.
On Sept. 14, protesters enraged by a crudely-made anti-Islam video produced in the U.S. attacked a KFC restaurant and two other American franchises — a Hardee’s and a Krispy Kreme — in Tripoli, Lebanon.
“A number of U.S. brand restaurants in Tripoli were damaged, including one KFC,” said Fuller. “We have been in touch with our franchisee and fortunately all of our employees and their families are safe.”
The three franchises were wedged together in a strip mall. Footage of the attack showed open flames pouring from the smashed window of the restaurants.
A Hardee’s restaurant was also destroyed, “Employees and customers were evacuated from the building,” said Hardee’s spokeswoman Julie McLean. “There was no report of injuries. This restaurant was targeted previously, about seven years ago, and we are closely monitoring the situation across the region.”
Hardee’s Arabia, as the company’s international division is called, has about 200 restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa, including Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and Egypt.
The U.S. government closed its embassy in Pakistan on Sept. 17 following an attack against the U.S. Embassy in Libya on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The attackers killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staffers.
The violence has spread from North Africa through parts of the Middle East and Pakistan, where protests have raged for days.