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UK closes Yemen embassy after ambassador escapes attack


London : The British Foreign Office decided to keep its embassy in Yemen closed after its ambassador in Sanna escaped a terrorist attack Monday morning.

The British Foreign Office confirmed that its Ambassador to Yemen Tim Torlot was attacked near his convoy in the capital, Sanaa.

“We can confirm that there was an incident in Sanaa this morning,” a Foreign Office spokesman in London said.

The confirmation followed reports that Torlot survived an attack from a “suicide bomber” as his convoy was travelling to the British Embassy, which is in a heavily fortified area, with sand-bagged machine gun posts guarding a shock-walled entrance.

“There was a small explosion beside the British ambassador’s car. He was unhurt. No other embassy staff or British nationals were injured,” the spokesman added.

He said the embassy would remain closed “for the time being” and urged British nationals in Yemen “to keep a low profile and remain vigilant”.

Both the UK and US temporarily closed their embassies in January amid security threats from a reported al-Qaeda off-shoot group after the Christmas Day bomb attempt on a US jet flying to Detroit.

Security has been stepped up at Western embassies in Yemen in recent months following the US, Britain and other European countries signalling intention to play a greater role in combating the extremist groups that threaten Yemen’s stability.

Torlot, aged 52, has been the British ambassador to Yemen since July 2007. He was formerly deputy head of the British Embassy in Baghdad.