A pair of suspected U.S. drone strikes killed four al Qaeda militants in Yemen as the United States maintained a heightened security alert in the country and urged all Americans to leave immediately.
Security sources told CNN about the strikes but didn’t offer additional details. A Yemeni official said four drone strikes have been carried out in the past 10 days.
None of those killed on Tuesday were among the 25 names on the country’s most-wanted list, security officials said.
It is unclear whether the strikes were related to the added security alert in the country after U.S. officials intercepted a message from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to operatives in Yemen telling them to “do something.” The message was sent to Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group’s Yemeni affiliate. U.S. intelligence believes al-Wuhayshi has recently been appointed the overall terror organization’s No. 2 leader.
Also Tuesday, the State Department urged Americans in Yemen to leave immediately, citing terrorist activities and civil unrest. All non-emergency U.S. government personnel were also told to leave.
Two U.S. military transport aircraft landed in Yemen on Tuesday to evacuate American citizens.
“In response to a request from the U.S. State Department, early this morning the U.S. Air Force transported personnel out of Sana’a, Yemen, as part of a reduction in emergency personnel,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement.
Little also said, “The U.S. Department of Defense continues to have personnel on the ground in Yemen to support the U.S. State Department and monitor the security situation.”
The UK Foreign Office also announced it had temporarily withdrawn all staff from the British embassy and would keep the facility shut until employees are able to return.