US temporarily closes embassy in Yemen to the public

WASHINGTON - The United States is temporarily closing its embassy in Yemen to the public amid a spate of attacks against foreign diplomats, a top US official said Wednesday.

"Due to recent attacks against Western interests in Yemen, we have temporarily suspended operations of our embassy in Sanaa to the public," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

She said in a statement that the recent attacks "and information we have received have given us enough concern to take this precautionary step." The move comes after a Frenchman was killed on Monday and another was wounded when gunmen opened fire on their car in Sanaa's diplomatic district.

Both worked for a private security firm that officials said was guarding the EU delegation in Yemen.

On Wednesday, Yemeni security forces shot dead the head of a "terror cell" behind Monday's attack, the country's supreme security committee said.

Foreign diplomats, mainly Europeans, have increasingly come under attack in Sanaa.

A German diplomat was wounded in the city on April 28 as he evaded an attempt by gunmen to kidnap him in the same district.

In October, a German embassy security guard was killed as he resisted a kidnapping attempt.

Two Britons and a German were kidnapped in January and February respectively.

"We continue to evaluate the security situation every day, and we will reopen the embassy to the public once it is deemed appropriate," Psaki said.

"The United States remains firmly committed to supporting Yemen as it works to achieve meaningful reform through its ongoing transition process and to enhance security for the Yemeni people."