US, UK Shut Yemen Embassies

Tensions escalate on Arabian Peninsula; UK jumps into fray
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 3, 2010 7:49 AM CST
A Yemeni girl passes the Sana'a Institute for Arabic Language in San'a, Yemen Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010. Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an Arabic student at the institute in August.   (Nasser Nasser)
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(Newser) – The US and Britain closed their embassies in Yemen today in the face of al-Qaeda threats, after both countries announced an increase in aid to the government to fight the terror group linked to the failed attempt to bomb a US airliner on Christmas. The White House counterterror chief said the American Embassy, which was attacked twice in 2008, was shut because of an "active" al-Qaeda threat. A statement on the embassy's website announcing the closure cited "ongoing threats" from the terror group and did not say how long it would remain closed.

In London, Britain's Foreign Office said its embassy was closed for security reasons. It said officials would decide later whether to reopen it tomorrow. The closure comes as Washington is dramatically stepping up aid to Yemen to fight al-Qaeda, which has built up strongholds in remote parts of the impoverished, mountainous nation where government control outside the capital is weak. Likewise, Britain announced today that Washington and London will back a new counterterrorism police unit in Yemen. Britain will also host a high-level international conference Jan. 28 to hammer out an international strategy to counter radicalization in Yemen.

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