The United States has issued a global travel alert and ordered its embassies throughout the Muslim world to close down temporarily, amid fears of an Al Qaeda terror strike, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.
The State Department issued a worldwide alert to US citizens travelling abroad on Friday, warning that Al Qaeda and its affiliates are planning terror attacks that may materialise before the end of August.
The US alert, valid till August 31, was particularly aimed at its citizens in the Middle East and North Africa.
"Current information suggests that Al Qaeda and affiliated organisations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August," the State Department said in a statement.
It alerted US citizens to the "continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula".
According to the alert, terrorists may choose to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests.
US citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure.
"Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. US citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when travelling," it said.
The alert comes amid heightened security concerns for embassies across the region after the State Department announced that any embassy normally open on Sunday would be closed for the day, with the possibility of a longer closure.
The announcement was linked to an Al Qaeda plot against US diplomatic facilities in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, where Sunday is the beginning of the work week.
Britain and Germany have also said they will close their embassies in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, tomorrow and Monday.
US posts in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar have put out messages informing the public that they will be closed on Sunday, which is a workday in many Muslim countries.