United States government workers fled Yemen Tuesday, hours after a drone strike killed four al Qaeda militants, including a leading jihadist.
Yemeni security officials confirmed the deaths of senior al Qaeda member Saleh Jouti and Saleh al Tays al Waeli, who was on a list of 25 most wanted militants published Monday with a $23 000 bounty on his head. Their vehicle was reduced to a “ball of fire” after being hit by five missiles in the early hours, according to the officials.
The Obama administration confirmed that it had evacuated ‘nonemergency’ staff from its closed embassy in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital. Department of defense spokesman George Little confirmed that American troops were “on the ground in Yemen to support the U.S. State Department and monitor the security situation”.
Yemen protested the embassy closure and the evacuations.
“While the government of Yemen appreciates foreign governments’ concern for the safety of their citizens, the evacuation of embassy staff serves the interests of the extremists and undermines the exceptional co-operation between Yemen and the international alliance against terrorism. Yemen remains strongly committed to the global effort to counter the threats of al Qaeda and its affiliates,” said a Yemen government statement issued in Washington.
The U.S., however, justified the embassy closure in al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden’s impoverished ancenstral home.
“The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high,” the State Department said. “Terrorist organisations, including Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen.”


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