U.S. evacuates some personnel from Baghdad embassy

WASHINGTON (AP) – The State Department is reinforcing security at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq’s capital and moving some personnel out of town.

The announcement comes as Baghdad is threatened by the advance of an al-Qaida-inspired insurgency.

State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement that much of the embassy staff will stay in place. But others are being temporarily moved to more stable places in Iraq and to Jordan. She did not say the number of people affected.

The embassy has about 5,000 personnel.

An al-Qaida splinter group surprised Western intelligence organizations last week and took control of at least two major Iraqi cities.

Meantime an ethnically mixed town in Iraq’s north is now in the hands of Sunni militants.

The capture of Tal Afar today has raised fears of major atrocities against Shiites by the al-Qaida splinter group that already claims killing hundreds.

Reports of Shiite massacres prompted a call from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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