US and UK withdraw staff from Yemen amid terror fears
United States tells citizens to leave due to potential for terrorist attacks
An army trooper looks on, while manning a checkpoint in Sanaa Yemen. Photograph: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
The US has told its citizens in Yemen today to leave the country immediately because of what is said was the continued potential for terrorist attacks.
It also ordered non-emergency US government staff to leave the Arab state, according to a statement posted on the US State Department’s website.
The US Air Force today flew some American personnel out of Sanaa, the Pentagon said. “In response to a request from the U.S. State Department, early this morning the U.S. Air Force transported personnel out of Sanaa, Yemen, as part of a reduction in emergency personnel,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.
The US state department said it “urges US citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those US citizens currently living in Yemen to depart immediately,” the statement posted on its website said. “On August 6, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency US government personnel from Yemen due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks,” it added.
The British foreign office said today said it had temporarily withdrawn all staff from its embassy in Yemen. “Due to increased security concerns, all staff in the British Embassy have been temporarily withdrawn and the Embassy will remain closed until staff are able to return,” the British foreign office said on its website. “There is a very high threat of kidnap from armed tribes, criminals and terrorists. Be particularly vigilant during Ramadan, when tensions could be heightened,” it said.
It comes after it emerged that the Obama administration’s decision last week to close nearly two dozen diplomatic missions and issue a worldwide travel alert came after the United States intercepted electronic communications in which the head of al-Qaeda ordered the leader of the group’s affiliate in Yemen to carry out an attack as early as last Sunday.
The intercepted conversations last week between Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the head of the global terrorist group, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, revealed what US intelligence officials and lawmakers have described as one of the most serious plots against US and Western interests since the attacks on September 11th , 2001.
It also came after at least four suspected al Qaeda members were killed in what local tribal leaders said was a US drone strike in central Yemen early today. “
Reuters/New York Times