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US tells citizens to leave Yemen immediately due to terrorist threat

The US has told its citizens and non-essential government staff in Yemen to leave the country due to the threat of terrorist attacks. The new measure comes after a heightened security warning issued by the US on Friday.

SANAA, Aug. 4, 2013 (Xinhua) -- The closed U.S. embassy is seen in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 4, 2013. Yemen boosted security around Western embassies on Sunday as Washington held urgent talks on an Al-Qaeda threat that prompted it to close missions across the Arab world. U.S. embassies across the Islamic world will be shuttered Sunday, while Britain, France and Germany will close their offices in Yemen for at least two days. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed) (djj) XINHUA /LANDOV

Jemen - US-Botschaft in Sanaa

In a statement posted on its website, 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."

"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," the statement added, also stating that "the threat level in Yemen is extremely high."

The new warning follows the closure of some two dozen US missions across the Middle East and Africa. A number of Western embassies, including that of Germany, in Yemen were also shut down after Friday's security warning from the US.

Britain also said Tuesday that it had withdrawn all staff from its embassy in Yemen.

"Due to increased security concerns, all staff in our Yemen embassy have been temporarily withdrawn, and the embassy will remain closed until staff are able to return," said the British Foreign Office.

The German foreign office said Tuesday that its embassy in Yemen would remain closed indefinitely because of a "critical" security situation, adding that Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had discussed the matter with "important partners."

Drone attack

Tuesday's warnings came just hours after four suspected al-Qaeda members were killed by what local tribal leaders said was a US drone strike in central Yemen. The strike in Marib province is the fourth in less than two weeks.

Washington considers the al-Qaeda branch in Yemen, led by Nasser al-Wuhashyi, to be among the terror network's most dangerous, and has launched several drone attacks on its leaders.

US media have reported that the overseas missions were closed after intelligence agents intercepted messages from al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri to his deputy in Yemen calling for an attack as early as last Sunday.

tj/ipj (AFP, AP, Reuters)