Monday, January 4, 2010

US & UK close Yemen missions over Qaeda threat


SANAA (Agencies)

Britain closed its embassy in Yemen on Sunday, following a similar move by the United States, and prompting Spain to limit access to its embassy because of perceived threats from a local branch of al-Qaeda.

"The embassy is closed today (Sunday) for security reasons, and out of fear of possible al-Qaeda reactions," the official said on condition of anonymity. But he stressed there were "no direct al-Qaeda threats" against the mission.

The United States has closed its mission earlier and instructed its Yemeni employees to stay away until further notice, the embassy and foreign diplomats said on Sunday.

"The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa is closed today, January 3, 2010, in response to ongoing threats by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to attack American interests in Yemen," said the statement posted on the embassy's website.

" We call upon every Muslim who cares about his religion and doctrine to assist in expelling the apostasies from the Arabian Peninsula, by killing every crusader who works at their embassies or other places, declare it an all-out war against every crusader on Mohammad's peninsula on land, air and sea "

Qaeda statement

On Thursday the U.S. mission sent a warden message to American citizens in the country reminding them of the "continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against American citizens and interests throughout the world."


Meanwhile the Spanish Embassy in Yemen restricted access to people but remained open.

"Spain's Yemen embassy is still open and operating as normal, but has restricted access due to security reasons," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

El Mundo newspaper said the embassy would be closed to the public on Monday.

Attacks on Westerners

" Any assistance provided to Yemen's counter-terrorism force will be most welcome "
Yemen govt official

AQAP had called on Monday for further attacks on Westerners in the Arabian Peninsula as it claimed the failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S. airliner.

"We call upon every Muslim who cares about his religion and doctrine to assist in expelling the apostasies from the Arabian Peninsula, by killing every crusader who works at their embassies or other places, declare it an all-out war against every crusader on Mohammad's peninsula on land, air and sea," said an AQAP statement.

The United States and Britain have agreed to fund special counter-extremism police in Yemen after U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday for the first time blamed the al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen for the thwarted attack.

On Sept. 17, 2008, the U.S. embassy was the target of an attack claimed by al-Qaeda in which 19 people were killed -- seven attackers and 12 others, including Yemeni guards and civilians, one of them an American woman.

Last month the defense ministry newspaper said that a raid north of the capital on December 17 killed four suspects and foiled a plot to bomb the British embassy in Sanaa.

Yemen on Sunday welcomed the British and U.S. decision to fund its counter-extremism force.

"Any assistance provided to Yemen's counter-terrorism force will be most welcome," a government official who requested anonymity told AFP.

The official also said that Sanaa would also need to help to modernize its coastguard "in light of the danger coming from Somalia."