News / Europe

    Security Threats Keep US, British Embassies Closed in Yemen

    The United States and Britain are keeping their embassies in Yemen closed for a second day Monday because of threats from a local branch of the al-Qaida terrorist network.  It is not clear when they plan to reopen.

    France also closed its embassy in Yemen Monday.  The French foreign ministry made the announcement.

    U.S. President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism aide, John Brennan, told CNN Sunday the U.S. embassy was closed because there are indications al-Qaida is planning an attack in Sana'a, possibly against the diplomatic building.

    The embassy says the threats are from the group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which was linked to the failed bombing of a U.S.-bound airplane on Christmas Day, December 25. 

    The U.S. embassy building in Yemen was the target of an al-Qaida attack in 2008, when two car bombs exploded outside the main entrance, and gunmen attempted to breach security.  Sixteen people were killed in a firefight between the attackers and Yemeni soldiers.

    British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the BBC Sunday that Islamist extremists driven out of Pakistan are emerging in Yemen and other struggling states like Somalia.  He called Yemen a failing state, and said the West has to be very careful about whom it supports and what they do with that support.

    Britain and the United States say they will fund a counter-terrorism police unit in Yemen.  Later this month, Washington will join an international conference that Britain is hosting to boost Yemen's capability to fight terrorism.

    U.S. General David Petraeus was in Sana'a on Saturday discussing the security situation with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

    The Yemeni government is struggling with al-Qaida, as well as Shi'ite fighters along the border with Saudi Arabia and secessionist rebels in the south.

    Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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