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.
CHICAGO (AP) — Alex Rodriguez stepped up to the plate greeted by a standing boo-vation and blooped a single in his first at-bat of the season.
Hours after Major League Baseball suspended the New York Yankees star through the 2014 season in the Biogenesis drug case, Chicago White Sox fans got their say Monday night.
And, boy, did they let him hear it.
They jeered him during pregame warmups and introductions, and they really tore into him when he walked to the batter's box leading off the second inning.
On the third pitch, Rodriguez dunked a hit into shallow left field. He made it to third base with no outs, but was stranded.
Rodriguez flied out in his next two at-bats and then took a called third strike in the eighth inning while fans chanted "Steroids! Steroids!" He also handled a few grounders at third base as Chicago snapped a 10-game losing streak with an 8-1 win over the struggling Yankees.
At 38 and coming back from hip surgery, Rodriguez said he's fighting for his career.
He did not deny using performance-enhancing drugs in a news conference at U.S. Cellular Field after the punishment came down, and he said he will talk about whether he used PEDs at another time when he is more free to speak.
He did, however, dig in for a battle, saying no one else will defend him unless he stands up for himself. Then, he took to the field, batting fourth against the White Sox.
"There's nothing about it that's been easy," Rodriguez said. "All of it has been challenging. I'm sure there's been mistakes made along the way. We're here now. I'm a human being. I've had two hip surgeries. I've had two knee surgeries. I'm fighting for my life. I have to defend myself. If I don't defend myself, no one else will. There's a process. I'm happy with the process. In due time, hopefully whatever happens, happens."
The Yankees are hoping something good happens with him on the field. They're out of playoff position and desperate for power, especially their third basemen — the players they've had playing that spot this season had a combined 32 RBIs, fewest in the majors according to STATS, and were hitting .215 with four homers.
Rodriguez, with 647 career home runs, arrived at the ballpark in a dark gray Cadillac around 3:10 p.m. CT and waved when a fan shouted "A-Rod!" on his way into the stadium.
In the clubhouse, his locker was jammed with the usual clothing and equipment, and there was a scouting report on his chair.
It all looked so ordinary, yet there was nothing ordinary about this day.
The three-time MVP was one of 13 players disciplined on Monday, one of the biggest mass suspensions in the history of the game.
All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games each. Rodriguez, however, got 211 games, due to start Thursday.
He will appeal his suspension, and that means he will likely be able to play the rest of this season while his case winds through arbitration.
Prior to his first game since last Oct. 18, Rodriguez signed autographs and drew a crowd — of both fans and photographers.
Rodriguez said "a lot" went into his decision to appeal his case but added "I'm not going to get into any of that today."
"What we've always fought for was for the process, and I think we have that and at some point we'll sit in front of an arbiter and give our case," he said. "And that's as much as I feel comfortable telling you right now."
Asked if he denies using PEDs, Rodriguez said, "Like I said, we'll have a forum to discuss all of that and we'll talk about it then."
If he hasn't used PEDs since then, why not say it?
"There's a lot of things that have been thrown to the wall, and I think when the time is right, there will be an opportunity to do all of that," he said. "I don't think that time is right now. And I don't want to interfere or get in the way of anything that — with the process."
On Friday, Rodriguez hinted that the Yankees did not want him back and were trying to avoid paying him the $94.5 million they still owe him through 2017.
Union executive director Michael Weiner said those comments were probably out of frustration and that Rodriguez would probably agree they were "counterproductive."
Weiner also said he and Rodriguez have talked since then — but not about those comments.
"But I would guess that all things considered, and having thought about it a little bit, he's probably not very happy with those comments," Weiner added.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, brushed off a question about his comment on Friday, saying "Today is another day, and I'm focused on what my job is and my responsibilities to the New York Yankees and to the fan base of New York."
He thanked the fans, media, people from the Dominican Republic and Hispanics "all over the world" for the support.
Whether he has the Yankees' support is another issue.
"If I'm productive, I think they want me back," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez batted .120 (3 for 25) with no RBIs last postseason, including 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handers.
"It's been a long time for me, and the last time I was on the field it wasn't pretty," he said. "I was horrific."