The US and UK told its citizens in Yemen on Tuesday to leave immediately and airlifted out some government personnel, following warnings of potential attacks that have pushed Washington to shut diplomatic missions across the West Asia.
The poorest Arab country, Yemen is the base for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden, and militants have launched attacks from there against the West.
U.S. sources have told Reuters that intercepted communication between bin Laden’s successor as al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, and the Yemen-based wing was one part of the intelligence behind their alert last week.
Britain, which has already advised for more than two years that its citizens in Yemen should “leave now”, announced it was temporarily evacuating all its embassy staff.
Yemen is one of a handful of countries where Washington acknowledges targeting militants with strikes by drone aircraft.
In the latest strike on Tuesday, a US drone fired five missiles at a car travelling in the central Maarib province killing all four of its occupants, local tribal leaders said.
Yemen’s state news agency Saba said four al Qaeda militants were killed in the attack.
The US State Department’s announcement urging Americans to leave the country follows a worldwide travel alert on Friday which prompted Washington to shut diplomatic missions across the West Asia and Africa. Some of its European allies have also closed their embassies in Yemen.