Al Qaeda Threat Prompts U.S. to Close 22 Embassies, Consulates

Al Qaeda Threat Prompts U.S. to Close 22 Embassies, Consulates

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Fears that al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in the coming days prompted the United States to close 22 embassies and consulates for a day Sunday -- an unprecedented move.

The closures Sunday stretch across a swath of North Africa and the Middle East, from Mauritania to Oman.

Bangladesh and Afghanistan, both majority Muslim nations, also are affected.

Normally, Sunday is the start of the work week in those countries.

The shutdowns could extend beyond Sunday, a senior State Department official said.

A U.S. global travel alert is also in place.

Of particular concern is Yemen, where the government is "on high alert against possible attacks in the days to come," said a senior U.S. security official.

On Saturday, the security around the U.S. embassy in Yemen was even tighter than last year when the embassy was raided by protesters. At least 12 tanks were stationed within 500 meters of the building.

Britain, France and Germany have said they, too, will close their embassies in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, on Sunday and Monday for security reasons. No other embassies are affected, they said.

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