Interpol, US security alerts spark embassy closure
Paris: Interpol issued a global security alert after jailbreaks linked to al Qaeda and as Western powers planned the temporary closure of certain embassies over terror threats.
Washington ordered its embassies across the Islamic world shuttered today, while Germany, Britain and France were to close their missions in Yemen for at least two days.
Canada said its mission in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka would also be shut today.
Interpol, in issuing its alert, said it suspected al Qaeda was involved in recent jailbreaks across nine countries, including Iraq, Libya and Pakistan.
The global police agency said the jailbreaks had "led to the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals" in the past month alone.
It also asked its 190 member countries to help "determine whether any of these recent events are coordinated and linked" and to immediately convey any intelligence that could help prevent another incident.
The Interpol alert comes the day after Washington issued a worldwide travel warning, citing unspecified plans by Al-Qaeda to strike US interests in the Middle East or North Africa in August.
Interpol, based in the French city of Lyon, noted that August is the anniversary of attacks in India, Russia and Indonesia.
This week also marks the 15th anniversary of the US embassy bombings in the Kenyan capital Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which killed more than 200 mostly African citizens and injured thousands.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told ABC News that the threats were directed at Western interests, and were "more specific" than previous threats.
While an exact target was unknown, "the intent seems clear. The intent is to attack Western, not just US, interests," Dempsey said.
As a precaution, the State Department said it was closing at least 22 US embassies or consulates today, a work day in many Islamic countries.
Germany and Britain later announced that their embassies in Yemen would be closed Sunday and Monday, while France said its mission there would stay shut for "several days".
Canada said its Dhaka mission was shutting as a security precaution and it would "continue to monitor events closely and take appropriate security measures."
US President Barack Obama ordered his national security team to "take all appropriate steps to protect the American people," a White House official said.
He had been "updated on a potential threat occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula" and would continue to be informed through the weekend.
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