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Sunday, 17 November, 2002, 14:49 GMT
SAS 'hunting Bin Laden in Yemen'
Al-Jazeera plays in October an audio tape purported to be of Osama Bin Laden
Al-Jazeera has run tapes allegedly from Bin Laden
British special forces are searching for Osama Bin Laden in Yemen, it is being reported.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, the focus of the international manhunt for the al-Qaeda leader has switched from Afghanistan to the Middle Eastern state in the past few weeks.

The newspaper quotes an unnamed American official who also said a "high ranking al-Qaeda official" had been arrested in the region.

Sanaa
The embassy is in the Yemeni capital Sanaa
In a separate development, the British Embassy in Yemen has been closed to the public following safety concerns.

The Foreign Office confirmed the Embassy was closed on Friday "due to a recent review of security arrangements."

But there were no details of any general or specific threat received by officials.

Embassy staff are still in Yemen but it is not clear if they are still working.

On Friday, British citizens living in Yemen were urged by the Foreign Office to leave due to a "heightened threat of terrorism" there.

That followed a Foreign Office warning a week ago against travelling in the area.

On Tuesday, an audiotape apparently carrying a message from Bin Laden was played on Arabic television station al-Jazeera.

Regrouping

In it, the speaker refers to the bombings in Bali and Yemen, shootings in Kuwait and the recent takeover of a Moscow theatre by Chechen rebels.

Officials in Washington who are analysing the tape said they believed it was Bin Laden's voice.

There has been intense speculation about Bin Laden's fate since the US launched a bombing campaign against al-Qaeda and the Taleban Government in Afghanistan at the end of 2001.

Yemen has been identified, the newspaper said, as an area where al-Qaeda is regrouping.

On 6 October, a French oil tanker was damaged by a bomb off the coast of Yemen, and a Bulgarian sailor killed.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

16 Nov 02 | Middle East
13 Nov 02 | South Asia
14 Oct 02 | Middle East
10 Sep 02 | Middle East
06 Oct 02 | Middle East
18 Jul 02 | South Asia
04 Jul 02 | Panorama
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