UK withdraws embassy staff, U.S. flies personnel out of Yemen

A police trooper mans a checkpoint near the British embassy in Sanaa August 3, 2013. (Reuters)

Britain withdrew all its embassy staff in Yemen, and the U.S. Air Force flew some American personnel out of Sanaa on Tuesday following a worldwide terror alert issued by Washington.

“Due to increased security concerns, all staff in our Yemen embassy have been temporarily withdrawn, and the embassy will remain closed until staff are able to return,” Agence France-Presse quoted a Foreign Office spokesman as saying.

Britain was among several Western countries to close their embassies over the weekend, following U.S. warnings of a potential al-Qaeda attack.

The United States closed some two dozen embassies and consulates on Sunday, and said 19 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa would remain shut until Aug. 10.

The United States told its citizens to leave Yemen, and ordered the evacuation of non-essential government staff.

“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,” Reuters quoted Pentagon spokesman George Little as saying on Tuesday.

He did not detail the types of personnel involved, or where they were taken.

“The U.S. Department of Defense continues to have personnel on the ground in Yemen to support the U.S. State Department and monitor the security situation,” Little said.

The terror alert was reportedly linked to the interception of communications between al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and the leader of the group’s Yemen-based affiliate, Nasser al-Wuhayshi.

U.N. boosts Yemen security

Meanwhile, the U.N. refugee agency has boosted its security in Yemen.

“We’re there, but we’re operating under extreme caution, and certain restrictions,” AFP quoted Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, as saying on Tuesday.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41
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