Yemen on 'high alert' over al-Qaeda threat
Yemeni security forces have been put on high alert amid warnings of an imminent attack by al-Qaeda in Sana'a, as the US and Britain withdrew embassy staff and urged their citizens to leave the country.
BBC Arabic quoted a Yemeni security source as saying that "extraordinary and unprecedented" security measures had been put in place, with armoured vehicles deployed at the presidential palace and other sensitive government and foreign installations in Yemen's capital.
Dozens of al-Qaeda operatives were said to have streamed into Sana'a in the last few days, apparently to take part in a terrorist attack, the BBC said. The Yemeni claim could not be independently confirmed.
Hours earlier, Yemeni tribal sources and unnamed officials reported two US drone strikes that killed four al-Qaeda operatives in Marib province north-east of Sana'a, including a senior commander who was named by al-Jazeera as Salah al-Jumati. Last month, the second in command of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Said al-Shehri, was also killed in a US drone strike.
The New York Times reported that US intelligence services had intercepted communications between Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's overall leader, and the Yemeni head of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Nasser al-Wuhayshi.
In London the Foreign Office said all UK embassy staff had been temporarily withdrawn. The FCO also advised against all travel to the whole country.
A US defence department spokesman said the American air force transported state department personnel out of Sana'a early yesterday. "The US department of defence continues to have personnel on the ground in Yemen to support the US state department and monitor the security situation," said George Little.
A global travel alert issued yesterday said: "The US department of state warns US citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest."