US personnel flown out of country as reports claim ‘extraordinary and unprecedented’ security measures in force in capital Sana’a

Yemeni security forces have been put on high alert amid warnings of an imminent attack by al-Qaeda in Sana’a, as the U.S. and Britain withdrew embassy staff and urged their citizens to leave the country.

BBC Arabic quoted a Yemeni security source as saying that “extraordinary and unprecedented” security measures had been put in place, with armoured vehicles deployed at the presidential palace and other sensitive government and foreign installations in Yemen’s capital.

Dozens of al-Qaeda operatives were said to have streamed into Sana’a in the last few days, apparently to take part in a terrorist attack, the BBC said. The Yemeni claim could not be independently confirmed.

Hours earlier, Yemeni tribal sources and unnamed officials reported two U.S. drone strikes that killed four al-Qaeda operatives in Marib province north-east of Sana’a, including a senior commander who was named by al-Jazeera as Salah al-Jumati. Last month, the second in command of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Said al-Shehri, was also killed in a U.S. drone strike.

The New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence services had intercepted communications between Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s overall leader, and the Yemeni head of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Nasser al-Wuhayshi.

The paper quoted counter-terrorism officials as saying that Zawahri had recently elevated Wuhayshi to be the new “general manager” of the terrorist network, making him the second most important man in the organisation.

In London the Foreign Office said all U.K. embassy staff had been temporarily withdrawn. The FCO also advised against all travel to the whole country.

© Guardian News Service

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