U.S. and U.K. close foreign embassies in Yemen, Canadians warned to exercise caution

The United States continues to have many of its foreign embassies in the Middle East and Africa closed or on high alert in response to what it says is a heightened threat of terrorist attack.

There was a special focus on the embassies in Yemen Tuesday, where the U.S. said it had vacated its embassy office in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, according to a report in The New York Times. U.S. citizens living in Yemen were also advised to depart the country and the U.S. military landed two planes in Sana’a to get citizens out.

Britain’s embassy in Sana’a was also closed Tuesday as a precaution.

The heightened awareness comes after U.S. officials “intercepted a message from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to operatives in Yemen telling them to ‘do something,'” according to a report from CNN. Intelligence reports said that the attacks may coincide with the end of the religious holiday of Ramadan this week.

Also in Yemen, drone strikes killed four al Qaeda militants, sources told CNN. It is unclear whether the drone strikes were related to the heightened security measures and the perceived threat of terrorist attack.

The latest update on the Foreign Affairs Canada website about the U.S. warnings is from Friday, Aug. 2. It says the Canadian government is “monitoring the situation closely.” It advises Canadians and diplomats in North Africa and the Middle East to “exercise a higher degree of caution.” The Canadian government already recommends that citizens avoid all travel to Yemen.

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that Canada was closing its embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh over the weekend due to security threats.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is on a two-week tour of Latin America, returning Aug. 9.