WASHINGTON, D.C. - (AP) The State Department on Tuesday ordered the U.S. Embassy in Yemen evacuated as a result of the threat by al-Qaida that has triggered temporary shutdowns of 19 American diplomatic posts across the Middle East and Africa.
The department said in a travel warning that it had ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen "due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks" and said U.S. citizens in Yemen should leave immediately because of an "extremely high" security threat level.
"U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart. As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation," the travel warning said.
The U.S. Embassy is located in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen.
A U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat told The Associated Press that the current shutdown of embassies in the Middle East and Africa was instigated by an intercepted secret message between al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri and Nasser al-Wahishi, the leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, about plans for a major terror attack. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
AQAP has been widely considered al-Qaida's most dangerous affiliate for several years.
Even though the group lost Anwar al-Awlaki — one of its key inspirational leaders — to a U.S. drone strike in 2011, al-Wahishi and the group's master bomb maker, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, remain on the loose and determined to target the U.S. and other Western interests.
The group is linked to the botched Christmas Day 2009 bombing of an airliner bound for Detroit and explosives-laden parcels intercepted aboard cargo flights a year later — both incidents involving al-Asiri's expertise.
"Terrorist organizations, including AQAP, continue to be active throughout Yemen," the travel warning said. "The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses and perceived U.S. and Western interests."
CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick (AP) — A python escaped from its enclosure at a pet store in Canada, slithered through a ventilation system into an upstairs apartment and killed two young boys as they slept, police said Monday.
The boys, ages five and seven, were visiting the apartment of a friend above Reptile Ocean Inc., an exotic pet store in Campbellton, New Brunswick, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Const. Julie Rogers-Marsh.
Police arrived at the apartment around 6:30 a.m. and found the two boys dead. A friend of the boys was sleeping in another room and was unharmed, Rogers-Marsh said. She said the owner of the pet store lived in the apartment.
Rogers-Marsh said the snake escaped from its enclosure sometime during the night and was believed to have made its way into the apartment through the ventilation system.
"It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake," she said.
The snake was captured and is in the possession of police, Rogers-Marsh said. Calls to the pet store were not returned Monday.
Rogers-Marsh said autopsies were to be performed on the two victims on Tuesday. She couldn't confirm whether the two boys were related.
"It's very, very unusual and very tragic and difficult for everyone involved," Rogers-Marsh said.
The town's deputy mayor, Ian Comeau, said Reptile Ocean was licensed to operate and "everything was according to our bylaws, to the provincial guidelines."
The deaths of the boys have been "a shock ... it is unbelievable," Comeau said Monday evening. Comeau said he saw alligators, crocodiles and snakes when he toured the shop with the fire department about two years ago.
Associated Press Writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.
A St. Louis judge will be honored by the U.S. Supreme Court for his work in juvenile justice. Judge Jimmie Edwards will be the 2013 recipient of the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence. Chief Justice John Roberts will present the award in Washington on November 21st.
Judge Edward has been the driving force behind the Innovative Concept Academy. The five year old school is credited with turning troubled youths into academic successes and productive members of the community.
Edwards has been on the St. Louis Circuit Court bench since 1992, serving as Chief Juvenile Court Judge for five years.