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Al-Qaida threat shuts US embassy in Yemen
Sanaa, Jan 3 (Agencies):
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Published on 3 Jan. 2010 10:38 PM IST
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The US has shut its embassy in Yemen's capital Sanaa, citing "ongoing threats" by an al-Qaeda offshoot linked to an alleged failed US plane bomb plot. In a statement on its website, the embassy urged US citizens in Yemen to be vigilant and aware of security. It comes a day after top US soldier Gen David Petraeus visited Yemen to pledge US support for its fight with al-Qaeda. Gen Petraeus said on Friday the US would more than double counter-terror aid to Yemen this year. "The US Embassy in Sana'a is closed today, January 3, 2010, in response to ongoing threats by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack American interests in Yemen," said a statement on the embassy website on Sunday. Analysts say the US has been providing intelligence and other help to Yemeni forces, which carried out raids on 17 and 24 December that reportedly killed more than 60 militants. On Saturday, Gen Petraeus, head of US Middle East and Central Asian operations, visited Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh to discuss the militant threat. Yemeni officials said they had sent more troops to fight al-Qaeda militants in the provinces of Abyan, Baida and Shabwa. "These measures are part of operations to hunt down elements of al-Qaeda... and tighten the noose around extremists," a Yemeni official told AFP news agency. Gen Petraeus announced on Friday in a news briefing in the Iraqi capital Baghdad that US counter-terrorism aid to Yemen would more than double in the coming year. The US provided $67m (£41m) in training and support to Yemen last year and only Pakistan receives more counter-terrorism funding, with about $112m, according to AP news agency. On Saturday, President Barack Obama accused Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula of orchestrating a failed Christmas Day attack on a US plane. The group said in an internet statement last week it had trained Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who spent time in Yemen last year, to carry out the attempted bombing of the airliner over Detroit. In his weekly address, Mr Obama said he had made it "a priority to strengthen our partnership with the Yemeni government, training and equipping their security forces, sharing intelligence and working with them to strike al-Qaeda terrorists". He said training camps had already "been struck, leaders eliminated, plots disrupted".

 
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