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US, UK evacuate Yemen embassy staff as suspected drone kills four alleged militants

US diplomatic installations are on alert following the evacuation of non-essential staff from the US and UK embassies in Yemen. A bomb scare at the US consulate in Milan, meanwhile, has been deemed a false alarm.

The British and US embassies in the Yemeni capital Sanaa were evacuated of their non-essential staff in Yemen on Tuesday, as fears rose over a possible attack by al Qaeda. An apparent US drone strike, meanwhile, killed four alleged al Qaeda members in Yemen.

The US State Department on Tuesday ordered nonessential personnel at the US embassy in Yemen to leave the country, noting that the warning was "due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks." US citizens were also advised to leave.

The high risk of an attack by al Qaeda has led to temporary shutdowns of 19 US diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa in all.

Britain’s Foreign Office also evacuated staff from their Yemen embassy on Tuesday, owing to increased security concerns. A statement from the office said the staff were "temporarily withdrawn to the UK."

The exact source of the intelligence remains unclear, but Yemeni authorities released the names of 25 wanted al Qaeda suspects Monday, saying they were planning terrorist attacks in Sanaa and other cities.

Warning from Yemen

Yemen's Interior Ministry said the militants were going to target foreign offices and organizations, as well as government installations. Yemeni officials have, in turn, bumped up security near the presidential palace and important state institutions with armored vehicles and tanks. Checkpoints have been set up, with police checking cars and people.

Government and military leaders are also being asked to remain vigilant and limit their movements.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi returned home to Sanaa on Sunday from the US, according to an official, but only his son was able to greet him due to the growing security concerns that national leaders are being targeted by al Qaeda.

Apparent US drone strikes have also increased in recent weeks, with Tuesday's deadly attack being the fourth in two weeks.

A bomb scare

On Tuesday, another US diplomatic installation went into high alert. The US consulate in central Milan was emptied so police could thoroughly search the premises.

Authorities were reportedly called in when they received a suspicious letter mentioning an explosive device.

After searching the premises, police deemed the threat a false alarm.

tm/slk (Reuters, AP, AFP)