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(CNN) – A global travel alert issued Friday by the State Department said al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in coming weeks, and the U.S. government prepared to close embassies and consulates in the region Sunday as a precaution.
The steps showed heightened concerns about what U.S. officials said was intelligence in recent days that indicated a potential attack in Yemen.
According to three sources, the United States has information al Qaeda in Yemen was in the final stages of planning for an unspecified attack.
One of the sources said the preparations appeared to have increased in recent days with the approaching end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, while a U.S. official noted it was unclear whether the plot would be directed at a target inside Yemen or elsewhere.
"Current information suggests that al Qaeda and affiliated organizations 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 travel alert said.