Middle East

Yemen violence: Gunmen launch deadly gas plant attack

Yemeni police guard a checkpoint on a street in Sanaa on 10 August 2013
Image caption Security remains tight in Sanaa

Suspected al-Qaeda militants have killed five soldiers in an attack on a gas terminal in southern Yemen, reports say.

They opened fire on a checkpoint near the Balhaf terminal in Shabwa province, killing the soldiers before fleeing.

Almost all US diplomatic missions recently closed in the region due to threats were due to reopen on Sunday.

But the US embassy in the capital, Sanaa, was to stay closed "because of ongoing concerns".

Yemen is a stronghold of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - an al-Qaeda offshoot considered by Washington to be the most dangerous to the West.

On Thursday, at least 14 suspected al-Qaeda militants - reportedly including seven from Saudi Arabia - were killed in Yemen in three drone strikes, Yemeni officials said.

The US closed 19 diplomatic missions in the Middle East and Africa last Sunday in response to what it said was a threat of a terrorist attack, but 18 out of the 19 missions were due to reopen on Sunday.

The consulate in the Pakistani city of Lahore, which closed after a separate threat, will also not reopen yet.

The US statement said its Sanaa embassy would stay closed because of concerns about a "threat stream" emanating from AQAP, without providing further details.

Most US employees at the Sanaa embassy were ordered to leave the country on Tuesday.

The embassy closures, along with a US global travel alert, came after the US reportedly intercepted al-Qaeda messages, with reports saying they were between senior figures talking about a plot against an embassy.

On Wednesday, Yemen said it had foiled a major al-Qaeda plot against oil pipelines and ports.

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