Wednesday 20th October 2010

French expats living in Yemen have been told by French authorities to return to France at their earliest opportunity.

Increased levels of terrorist activities targeted at French nationals in Yemen has led to the death of one French national citizen and the injury of a British citizen. On October 6th a Frenchman was shot in a shootout outside oil and gas company OMV. A British citizen was injured later in the same day during a separate rocket attack on a car containing British diplomats.

In a statement issued by France’s foreign ministry, spokesman Bernard Valero said: “Taking account of the deterioration in the security situation after the latest events in Yemen, we urge French expatriates to exercise greater vigilance and caution.

"Spouses and children are asked to leave Yemeni territory. This is a precautionary measure taken in conjunction with the main French companies on the ground and after informing Yemeni authorities."

The warning was issued after Al-Qaida launched attacks against Yemen’s government and westerners living in the region. The attacks are believed to be in response to the Yemen government’s declaration of war on Al-Qaida after their failed attack on an airliner in the country last December.

On Tuesday, Al-Qaida's offshoot in Yemen warned authorities that it is setting up a "new army" with the explicit intention of overthrowing the country's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in response to his U.S.-backed counterterrorism campaign. Saleh met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday to discuss the threats that the Al Qaida allies pose.

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