US, UK Shut Down Embassies in Yemen

A day after President Barack Obama accused an al-Qaeda offshoot of a failed Christmas Day attack on a US plane over Detroit, the United States indefinitely shut down its embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa citing security reasons on Sunday.

The US embassy posted a message on its website saying it was closed “in response to ongoing threats by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack American interests in Yemen”. It did not say when it would reopen.

Though embassy officials refused comment on any specific threat, analysts say that the closure of the facility could only mean that the threat is serious.

The al-Qaeda faction last week said it had trained 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who spent time in Yemen last year, to carry out the attempted bombing of the airliner.

Also on Saturday, Gen Petraeus, head of US Middle East and Central Asian operations, visited Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh to discuss the militant threat.

The general announced that the US would more than double counter-terrorism aid to Yemen this year.

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