In a 2008 file photo, Yemeni soldiers on top of a truck patrol the road in front… (Nasser Nasser / Associated…)
Reporting from Beirut — Washington reopened its embassy in Yemen on Tuesday after Yemeni security forces killed two alleged militants a day earlier north of the capital, said a statement posted on the website of the U.S. mission.
The United States, Japan and several European nations shut their embassies this week amid worries about rising Al Qaeda activity on the troubled Arabian peninsula. The U.S. Embassy statement cited "credible information that pointed to imminent terrorist attacks."
U.S. officials said they reopened the embassy in Sana, the capital, because of the Yemeni operation against Al Qaeda operatives, which also left two suspects wounded.
"Successful counter-terrorism operations conducted by government of Yemen security forces Jan. 4 north of the capital have addressed a specific area of concern, and have contributed to the embassy's decision to resume operations," the statement said.
The British Embassy, which had been closed for two days, also reopened, except for its visa and consular section. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told Parliament that the overall threat level had long been and continued to be high in Yemen, adding that the embassy was closed more than a dozen times last year.
Western intelligence and counter-terrorism officials have put a spotlight on Yemen since the suspect in the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight said that he was handed his instructions by a cleric in Yemen.
The Yemeni Interior Ministry said Tuesday that it had arrested five other "terror elements" around the capital and in Hudaydah province.
The ministry said it had beefed up security measures around embassies and Sana residential districts favored by foreigners, according to the official Saba news agency. An unnamed official told Saba that security forces had set up a "cordon" and round-the-clock surveillance around Al Qaeda militants.
"Security protections for embassies are at a high standard of counteraction performance in case of any repulsive attempt," an official told Saba.
"The Ministry of Interior emphasizes that all embassies, diplomatic missions and foreign companies are fully secured and there is nothing to be worried about," the official reportedly said. "Security is maintained and there is no fear for the life of any foreigner or any foreign embassy in the country."
Still, U.S. officials urged Americans living in Yemen not to take any chances.
"The threat of terrorist attacks against American interests remains high," the U.S. statement said.
Times staff writer Henry Chu in London contributed to this report.