US closes Yemen embassy amid security fears

US state department says decision comes after "recent attacks against Western interests" in the country.

    The US has closed its embassy in Yemen to the public, following a string of attacks against foreigners in the country.

    Police were deployed along all roads leading to the embassy in Sanaa on Thursday and conducted thorough inspections of vehicles in the area.

    Security and stability will return gradually to the district, which has been purged, while the chase continues to hunt down the evil elements...in all directions.

    Yemen's defence ministry

    Jan Psaki, a spokeswoman for the US state department, said the embassy would be temporarily closed to the public "due to recent attacks against Western interests in Yemen".

    These attacks "and information we have received have given us enough concern to take this precautionary step", Psaki said, in a statement.

    A French citizen was killed and another was wounded on Monday when gunmen opened fire on their car in the capital's diplomatic district.

    The country's defence ministry said the closure of the US embassy was prompted by fears that al-Qaeda fighters might retaliate against the military's crackdown on their organisation.

    Yemeni security forces on Wednesday shot dead the head of a "terror cell" behind Monday's attack, the country's supreme security committee said.

    Later that day, the interior ministry said it was searching for suspects whose vehicles were involved in recent attacks in Sanaa.

    Troops have killed and captured dozens of suspected fighters in the past week, according to Yemen's defence ministry.

    They also seized CDs and documents that showed al-Qaeda plots to carry out attacks in several of the country's provinces, according to the ministry.

    Security officials, who spoke to the AP news agency on condition of anonymity, said some fighters fled into nearby mountains and troops were sporadically clashing with them.

    "Security and stability will return gradually to the district, which has been purged, while the chase continues to hunt down the evil elements ... in all directions," the defence ministry said.

    Yemen has intensified its battle against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] over the past two years.

    The US has backed those efforts by waging a heavy drone strike campaign against the group.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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