Yemen tightens access to embassies after security alerts

17th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Yemeni authorities on Sunday tightened security measures around the British and US embassies in Sanaa after diplomatic missions warned of the heightened risk of attacks.

Police set up roadblocks stopping traffic in the main street leading to the US embassy in Sanaa, while security forces monitored cars travelling to the British embassy headquarters, according to an AFP correspondent.

On Friday, the US embassy in Sanaa warned its "citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities."

It also called on US citizens remaining in the country "despite this warning... (to) make contingency emergency plans and monitor the US embassy website."

The British embassy remained operational, but said it was "closed to the public because of the security situation," in a statement on its website dated October 12, one week after an embassy car came under rocket attack.

One member of staff was lightly wounded in the attack that occurred about three kilometres (two miles) from the embassy, the second attack on a British diplomatic vehicle in the city in six months.

On Friday, Australia raised its travel warning for Yemen to its highest possible level, saying there was a "very high threat of terrorist attack" in the Arabian peninsula's poorest nation.

"The overall level of the advice has increased to 'do not travel' because of the very high threat of terrorist attack," Australia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

And two days earlier, France advised the partners and children of its nationals in Yemen to leave the country because of the deteriorating security situation.

"This is a temporary precautionary measure taken in coordination with the main French companies present," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

A French contractor working for Austrian energy group OMV was shot dead at the company's compound in the Yemeni capital on October 6, the same day the British embassy car was hit.

US President Barack Obama said last week that Al-Qaeda continued to use Yemen, along with other places, as a platform from which to pursue its "murderous agenda".

The ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden faces a growing threat from the global jihadist network's local branch.

© 2010 AFP

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