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Britain and France reopen embassies in Yemen after security closures

Britain and France have reopened their embassies in Yemen after closing over al Qaeda related security threats earlier in the week, with Yemen's interior ministry asserting that all foreign missions are now "safe".


AFP - The British and French embassies in Sanaa reopened Wednesday after being closed due to the threat of an attack by Al-Qaeda, the missions said.

"The British embassy has reopened, but public services remain closed (visa and consular services)," said the statement posted on its website.

"The situation is being assessed on a daily basis."

The US embassy in Yemen reopened Tuesday after a two-day closure prompted by Al-Qaeda threats as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned unrest in the Arab country is a threat to global stability.

The US embassy said on its website that Yemeni security forces had addressed a "specific area of concern" in the north of the capital Sanaa on Monday, paving the way for Tuesday's reopening.

Warnings of a possible Al-Qaeda attack had led Washington to close its embassy in Sanaa the day before. The British and French authorities followed suit, while Japan suspended consular services at its embassy.

"Successful counter-terrorism operations conducted by the government of Yemen security forces January 4 north of the capital have addressed a specific area of concern, and have contributed to the embassy?s decision to resume operations," the US embassy said in a statement.

It was apparently referring to a security operation Yemeni police conducted Monday in the area of Arhab, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Sanaa, where two suspected members of Al-Qaeda were killed and three others wounded.

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Yemen's interior ministry said Tuesday all foreign missions and interests were "safe," pointing out it has reinforced security measures around embassies and the residences of foreigners.

The ministry also said it arrested five "terrorist elements" during the past two days near Sanaa, but gave no details.

Long-standing concerns that Yemen, a country on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, has become a haven for Islamic terror groups were thrown into sharp focus when a Nigerian man allegedly trained in Yemen was charged with trying to blow up a US-bound jet.

The botched Christmas Day attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which also urged attacks on Western interests in Yemen.

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