The U.S. Embassy in Yemen reopened its doors Tuesday after a two-day closure, saying successful attacks on al-Qaida targets by Yemeni forces a day earlier had addressed concerns about a specific militant threat.
The Yemeni Interior Ministry, however, issued its own statement saying the security situation in the capital had always been under control, suggesting that the embassy closures had not been necessary to begin with.
The embassy said it shut down for two days because of information of an imminent al-Qaida attack, but government attacks on Monday had neutralized the threat.
"Successful counter-terrorism operations conducted by government of Yemen security forces Jan. 4 north of the capital have addressed a specific area of concern, and have contributed to the embassy's decision to resume operations," the statement said.
The British embassy, meanwhile, also said it had reopened, though consular and visa services remain suspended.
Other Western embassies maintained heightened security profiles Tuesday, including the French and Czech embassies, which were operational but closed to the public, and the Spanish and German embassies, which were restricting the number of visitors.
In a sign of possible dissatisfaction over the embassy closures, Yemen's Interior Ministry issued a statement saying the situation was under control.
"There is nothing to fear from any threats of terror attack," the ministry said. "Security is good in the capital and the provinces, and there is no fear for the lives of any foreigner or foreign embassy."
The closure or curtailment of embassy services made it seem that the government could not protect its own capital, causing the regime embarassment.
Yemeni security forces on Monday attacked a group of al-Qaida militants moving through the mountainous area of Arhab, northeast of the capital, killing two of them, security officials said.
In addition, Yemeni forces arrested five others in the capital and the western region of Hodeida, the Interior Ministry said.
While the U.S embassy reopened, it said the threat of terrorist attacks against American interests remained high and urged its citizens in Yemen to be "vigilant and take prudent security measures."
The fight against al-Qaida in Yemen has taken on greater urgency since the failed Christmas attempt to bomb an American passenger jet. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian man who tried to destroy a Detroit-bound airliner, told U.S. investigators he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.
The United States hiked its counterterrorism aid to Saleh's government, from none in 2008 to $67 million last year -- an amount Washington says will double in 2010.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that internal unrest and a surge in al-Qaida activity in Yemen pose a global threat.
Clinton praised the Yemeni government for recent steps it has taken to combat extremists but said that at the London conference the United States and its allies will tell the Yemeni government that there are "expectations and conditions" it must meet for it to continue to enjoy support from the West.
On the Net:
U.S. Embassy in Yemen: http://yemen.usembassy.gov/