French embassy in Sanaa suspends operations

SANAA – The French embassy in Yemen suspended its operations for "security reasons" on Wednesday shortly after their U.S. and U.K. counterparts both made similar announcements, according to a French embassy source.

"The French embassy has closed its doors for security reasons," the source, requesting anonymity, told The Anadolu Agency without elaborating.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. and U.K. embassies both suspended their activities, likewise citing "security" reasons.

The British embassy said in a statement that its diplomatic staff had returned to the U.K. and advised British nationals remaining in Yemen to contact the embassies of other EU member states if they required consular assistance.

The U.S. embassy, for its part, urged citizens to leave Yemen immediately, fearing violent escalations and political demonstrations.

The embassy closures come after thousands of Yemenis took to the streets on Wednesday to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2011 uprising that eventually toppled autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh.

They also staged rallies against the Shiite Houthi group's recent takeover of the government.

Last week, the Houthi leadership issued a "constitutional declaration" dissolving parliament and establishing a 551-member "transitional council."

The declaration, however, was rejected by most of Yemen's political forces – along with some neighboring countries – which described it as a "coup" against "constitutional legitimacy."

Late last September, the Houthis seized control of Sanaa and have since sought to expand their influence to other provinces farther afield.

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