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Terror warning shutters US embassies

Update 8/5/13 7:47 a.m.

Update 8/5/13 7:47 a.m.Nineteen U.S. embassies in the Middle East remained closed on Monday after an al Qaeda-related terrorist threat prompted the State Department to shutter the posts over the weekend.In a statement, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the closure was not because of a new threat, but due to an "abundance of caution."

"Given that a number of our embassies and consulates were going to be closed in accordance with local custom and practice for the bulk of the week for the Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan, and out of an abundance of caution, we've decided to extend the closure of several embassies and consulates including a small number of additional posts."

Nine American diplomatic posts reopened on Monday even while others were to remain closed until Saturday. The posts in Dhaka, Algiers, Nouakchott, Kabul, Herat, Mazar el Sharif, Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil resumed regular business operations on Monday.Federal authorities had closed more than two dozen American embassies and consulates around the world over the weekend. Details of the possible plot are still elusive, but U.S. officials and politicians have said intelligence information supports taking the threat seriously.The State Dept. also issued a travel alert to American citizens traveling in the Middle East and North Africa that warned of potential terrorist attacks, particularly those that might occur in or emanate from the Arabian peninsula. That alert remains in effect through the end of the month.NBC Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel said Sunday that officials have believed the threat appeared to be related to Yemen, although State Department spokespeople have only confirmed that the warnings are al Qaeda related. Britain also announced that its embassy in Yemen would be closed on Sunday and Monday.Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said on Meet the Press Sunday that Vice President Joe Biden had briefed several senators earlier in the week, and that, "This specific threat, that we've been briefed about over and over again, have reached a new level."In September, four American officials—including Ambassador Christopher Stevens—were killed when the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya was attacked.