Britain and France extend closures of Yemen embassies

An army trooper mans a checkpoint in Sanaa on Monday, Aug 5, 2013. Britain and France extended the closure of their embassies in Yemen on Monday after a US warning of a possible militant attack in the region, and the Arab state said it was stepping u
An army trooper mans a checkpoint in Sanaa on Monday, Aug 5, 2013. Britain and France extended the closure of their embassies in Yemen on Monday after a US warning of a possible militant attack in the region, and the Arab state said it was stepping up security at ports and airports. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SANAA (REUTERS) - Britain and France extended the closure of their embassies in Yemen on Monday after a US warning of a possible militant attack in the region, and the Arab state said it was stepping up security at ports and airports.

The US State Department said at the weekend that 19 US embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa would remain closed until Saturday "out of an abundance of caution".

It said several would have been closed anyway for most of the week due to the Eid Muslim celebrations.

It had initially closed 21 US diplomatic posts for the day on Sunday.

Britain, which had said last week that it would close its embassy in Yemen on Aug 4 and 5, said on Monday the mission would remain closed and reopen on Thursday.

France, which closed its Yemen embassy on Sunday, said the mission would also reopen on Thursday.

Security in Yemen is a global concern as it is home to one of the most active wings of al Qaeda and shares a long border with Saudi Arabia, a US ally and the world's top oil exporter.

The Yemeni interior ministry said late on Sunday that it had ordered officials to increase security at ports and airports, as well as vital institutions, oil pipelines and electricity cables during the Eid holidays, which end at the weekend.

It also called for tighter inspections at city entrances to prevent weapons being smuggled in.

A Sept 11 attack last year killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi.

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN that the recent actions taken to close the embassies showed President Barack Obama's administration had learned lessons from Benghazi.