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Germany, Italy close embassies in Yemen

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Germany and Italy have closed their embassies in Sana’a, the foreign ministries in Berlin and Rome said Friday, after Shiite Houthi fighters took control of the Yemeni capital.

Germany said the embassy closed late Thursday, and the diplomats left the country early Friday. The closure is temporary and the government will make a decision on reopening the mission based on the situation.

Italy said Friday the temporary closure of its embassy came “following the deterioration of events in the country and the progressive worsening of security conditions.”

Earlier this week, the United States, Britain and France announced shutting their embassies in Yemen and evacuating their personnel as political unrest worsened in the Arabian Peninsula country after the Houthi takeover.

Last week, the Shiite rebels dissolved parliament and instituted an interim constitution, measures denounced by the country’s Sunni majority as a coup.

The takeover has sparked international fears that Yemen, a stronghold of an active al-Qaeda offshoot, would slide into a full-blown sectarian conflict.

Houthi leaders have said they are trying to stop al-Qaeda from taking control of the country.

Last month, Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi and his government were forced to resign after the Houthis overran the presidential palace and put officials under house arrest.

Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, also faces a secessionist movement in the south. SAPA

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