The State Department on Tuesday urged U.S citizens to depart Yemen “immediately” and ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from the country due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, according to a statement posted on the U.S. Embassy website in Sana’a.
CNN’s Barbara Starr reports that the “US military has evacuated two planes of American citizens out of Yemen following order for immediate departure.”
Fox News quoted Pentagon spokesman George Little saying that Air Force jets evacuated non-essential embassy staff out of the capital, Sana’a early Tuesday morning.
"The U.S. Department of Defense continues to have personnel on the ground in Yemen to support the U.S. State Department and monitor the security situation," Little said.
JUST IN: US miitary has evacuated two planes of American citizens out of #Yemen following order for immediate departure. @NewDay @cnnbrk— Barbara Starr (@Barbara Starr)1375784328.0
These developments are due to the Al-Qaeda threat that led to the temporary shutdown of 19 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa, the Associated Press reports.
An “Emergency Message” posted Tuesday on the U.S. Embassy’s website reads:
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart immediately.
On August 6, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks.
“U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart,” the message reads, adding “The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high.”
The Embassy emphasizes that “Terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen.”
“The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests,” it says.
"As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation," the warning adds.
Also on Tuesday, a suspected U.S. drone attack is believed to have killed four Al-Qaeda members in Yemen.
The Associated Press quotes officials who said that a drone fired a missile at a car in the district of Marib, sparking a fire that killed all four men inside. The AP reports that one was believed to be a senior Al-Qaeda member.
This would be the fourth strike of its kind in less than two weeks, according to the AP.
The AP quoted officials speaking on condition of anonymity and reports: “A U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat told The Associated Press that the current shutdown of embassies in the Middle East and Africa was instigated by an intercepted secret message between al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri and Nasser al-Wahishi, the leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, about plans for a major terror attack.”
“AQAP has been widely considered al-Qaida's most dangerous affiliate for several years,” the AP adds.
The British government also issued a warning Tuesday telling UK citizens to leave Yemen. The UK has withdrawn all staff from its embassy and writes to its nationals, “If you don’t leave the country now while commercial carriers are still flying it is extremely unlikely that the British government will be able to evacuate you or provide consular assistance.”
This is a breaking news story and may be updated.