Yemen Attack Fears Close UN offices but Embassies Remain Open

People visit the scene of the attack on the Yemeni defence ministry that took place on December 5, following the funeral of victims of the attack in the capital Sanaa on December 9, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED HUWAIS
People visit the scene of the attack on the Yemeni defence ministry that took place on December 5, following the funeral of victims of the attack in the capital Sanaa on December 9, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED HUWAIS

SANAA: The United Nations  closed its offices in the Yemeni  capital on Thursday over fears of possible car bomb attacks but Western  embassies remained open.

Most shops in Sanaa  were shuttered and little traffic ventured  out onto the streets as rumours swirled among the city’s residents of the risk  of an imminent attack.

The American and Turkish schools were also closed.

Security forces have been on high alert in the capital since a brazen  daylight attack on the defence ministry’s sprawling headquarters on December 5  killed 56 people, among them expatriate medical staff.

Information gleaned during the investigation into that attack, which was  claimed by Al-Qaeda, led to the discovery of two cars packed with explosives and  a massive search for five more suspected to be still inside Sanaa.

A UN source said Wednesday that a warning from Yemeni authorities of a  possible attack in Hada, the south  Sanaa neighbourhood where UN offices are  located, had triggered the closure order.

“Staff of the UN mission and UN agencies  have received instructions not to  turn up for work on Thursday,” the source said.

The source said it was a “precautionary measure following advice from Yemeni  security authorities”. The guidance warned of the “risk of possible acts of  terrorism in certain places, particularly in Hada.”

But a senior Yemeni security official said no warning had been issued through  authorised channels and dismissed the alleged guidance given to the UN as part  of “a campaign of rumours aimed at spreading fear in the country.”

Western embassy  security chiefs met with Yemeni  officials on Wednesday and no attack warnings were issued,” the official told  AFP, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The US embassy  said it remained open and referred all  questions about security to the Yemeni government.

The British and French embassies were also operating normally.

In August, a security alert originating in Yemen  prompted an unprecedented closure of  American embassies across and beyond the Middle East, which was mirrored by the  British and French missions in Sanaa.

Read more:  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Dec-12/240824-yemen-attack-fears-close-un-offices-but-embassies-open.ashx#ixzz2nOGtaQxq (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::  http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

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