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US, UK bow to threats

world Updated: Jan 03, 2010 23:31 IST

Al-Qaeda threats have forced Britain and the US to close their embassies in Yemen on Sunday amid increasing concern about the roots of terrorism in the Arabian peninsula in the wake of the Christmas Day bomb plot.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the British embassy in Sanaa was closed on Sunday “for security reasons” and a decision would be taken later as to whether it would reopen on Monday.

A statement posted on the US embassy website said its bureau was closed due to “ongoing threats” from Al-Qaeda. It said the embassy sent warning last week to US citizens in Yemen urging them to be vigilant. A US embassy spokesman would not comment on whether there had been a specific threat.

Yemen has been under scrutiny since the failed attempt by the Nigerian-born Umar Abdulmutallab to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day. Abdulmutallab was trained in Yemen and on Saturday Barack Obama said Al-Qaeda’s branch there was behind the attempted attack.

Gordon Brown on Sunday confirmed that he and Obama had agreed to back a counterterrorism police unit in Yemen. In a statement, Downing Street said the unit was part of a plan to “intensify joint US-UK work to tackle the emerging terrorist threat from both Yemen and Somalia”.