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Homeland Security

Britain matches U.S., shuts Yemen embassy 'for security reasons'

RIA Novosti


LONDON, January 3 (RIA Novosti) - Britain followed the lead of the United States on Sunday and closed its embassy in Yemen due to an unspecified security threat.

The British Foreign Office said its mission in Sana'a was closed on Sunday "for security reasons," with a decision to be taken later on whether it would open on Monday.

Earlier on Sunday, the United States announced it had closed its embassy in the Yemeni capital due to the threat of an al Qaeda attack.

Washington and London have agreed to join forces with Yemen's government to fight Islamist terrorist groups in the country.

The BBC quoted Downing Street officials as saying the two countries would jointly fund a counter-terrorism police unit in the restive Arabian Peninsula country. The decision was taken following an attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit on December 25.

A 23-year-old Nigerian national, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been charged with the attempted terrorist attack, and is suspected of having received training and explosives in Yemen.

Al Qaeda said in a statement posted on radical Islamist websites the attack carried out by its "brother" was retaliation for U.S. strikes on Yemeni soil in December.

Gen. David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, met with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen on Saturday as part of the plan to expand bilateral military and intelligence cooperation to increase pressure on militants operating in the country.

Britain and the United States have also agreed to strengthen their support for Yemen's coast guard. The country is located across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, which serves as a base for pirates targeting international shipping through the region.

Just this week four ships were seized in the area, including two British-flagged vessels.

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