SANAA - Yemeni security forces have foiled a plot by al Qaeda to take over oil and gas export facilities and a provincial capital in the eastern part of the country, a government official said on Wednesday.
Officials in Washington told NBC News the move was unrelated to the ongoing threat against western interests, which has prompted the closure of dozens of embassies.
Rajeh Badi, press adviser to Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, said the plan involved dozens of al Qaeda militants dressed in Yemeni army uniforms storming the facilities on the night of the 27th of Muslim month of Ramadan, which was on Sunday.
“The plot aimed to seize the al-Dabbah oil export terminal in Hadramout (province) and the Belhaf gas export facility, as well as the city of Mukalla,” Badi told Reuters.
The United States has evacuated some U.S. diplomatic staff out of Yemen and told nationals to leave the country immediately after warnings of potential attacks that had prompted Washington to shut missions across the Middle East.
Other Western countries, including Britain, France, the Netherlands and Norway, also closed their embassies in Sanaa and some evacuated their staff.
Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries, is the base for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden, and militants have launched attacks from there against the West.
NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell contributed to this report.