A Yemeni soldier inspects a car at a checkpoint on a street leading to the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013. Security forces close access roads, put up extra blast walls and beef up patrols near some of the 21 U.S. diplomatic missions in the Muslim world that Washington ordered closed for the weekend over a ``significant threat'' of an al-Qaida attack. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)
SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Officials in Yemen have increased security by sending tanks and troops into the streets of Sanaa, the country's capital. They've set up checkpoints across the city, searching cars and individuals.
Authorities have suggested that there have been al-Qaida threats in recent days against multiple potential targets -- including foreign installations and government offices in the capital.
Today, the U.S. and British embassies evacuated staff members. The State Department ordered non-essential personnel there to leave, due to what it called "the continued potential for terrorist attacks." It added that U.S. citizens should leave Yemen immediately because of an "extremely high" security threat level.
Yemen's government is criticizing the evacuations, saying that the pullout "serves the interest of the extremists."
The United States has temporarily shut down 19 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa. According to a U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat, that move came after the interception of a secret message between al-Qaida's leader and the man who heads the group's branch in Yemen.
Meanwhile, there's been a spike in apparent U.S. drone strikes against al-Qaida leaders. A suspected U.S. drone killed four alleged al-Qaida members today in Yemen.
Also today, the government reported that a Yemeni army helicopter was shot down by militants in an al-Qaida stronghold, killing all eight people aboard.