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U.S. Air Force flies diplomatic personnel out of Yemen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Air Force flew some American diplomatic personnel out of Yemen on Tuesday, a U.S. official said, as the United States told its citizens to leave the country and ordered the evacuation of non-essential government staff because of a terror threat.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the Air Force flew the diplomatic personnel out of the Yemen capital of Sanaa on a C-17 aircraft to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman George Little offered fewer details, saying in a statement only that the Air Force flew American personnel out of Sanaa "as part of a reduction in emergency personnel."

"The U.S. Department of Defense continues to have personnel on the ground in Yemen to support the U.S. State Department and monitor the security situation," Little said.

The State Department's announcement urging Americans to leave follows a worldwide travel alert issued on Friday that prompted Washington to shut diplomatic missions across the Middle East and Africa.

Some of Washington's European allies have also closed their embassies in Yemen, the base for one of the most active branches of the al Qaeda network founded by Osama bin Laden.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Bill Trott and Philip Barbara)

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