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Interpol alert after prison breaks

Interpol has issued a global security alert, warning countries around the world to be on their guard following a series of prison breaks believed to be linked to the al Qaida terror network.

The warning from the international policing organisation came a day after the US State Department put out a travel alert and closed 21 of its embassies in response to non-specific information suggesting that al Qaida is planning terror attacks during the month of August.

Britain is shutting the doors of its embassy in Yemen for two days due to increased security concerns.

In a statement issued from its general secretariat HQ in Lyon, France, Interpol urged countries around the world to show "increased vigilance", following a series of prison escapes over the past month, which freed hundreds of terrorists in nine states including Iraq, Libya and Pakistan.

"With suspected al Qaida involvement in several of the breakouts which led to the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals, the Interpol alert requests the organisation's 190 member countries' assistance in order to determine whether any of these recent events are co-ordinated or linked," said the statement.

"Interpol is asking its member countries to closely follow and swiftly process any information linked to these events and the escaped prisoners. They are also requested to alert the relevant member country and Interpol general secretariat headquarters if any escaped terrorist is located or intelligence developed which could help prevent another terrorist attack."

UK authorities have not yet specified the nature of the threat which led to the decision to close the British embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, on Sunday and Monday.

In a statement last night, the Foreign Office said: "The embassy will be closed on August 4 and 5. We have withdrawn a number of staff from Sana'a, due to increased security concerns."

British nationals have been warned against all travel to Yemen, and those in the country have been advised to leave immediately, as it is "extremely unlikely" that their evacuation could be arranged if the security situation deteriorates. The FCO recommended particular vigilance during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends on August 8, when "tensions could be heightened".

Yemen has become a stronghold of al Qaida over recent years, with local offshoot al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula believed to have several hundred members, despite efforts by the country's authorities to suppress the group and US drones killing leaders including Anwar al-Awlaki. Yemen was the source of an attempt to bomb a US-bound airliner in 2009. There has been unrest recently after the mutiny of troops in the Republican Guard, with fighting around the presidential palace.


From Belfast Telegraph