Thursday, Sept 18, 2008
Attackers used vehicle bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons to mount a coordinated assault on the U.S. Embassy here Wednesday, leaving 10 guards and civilians dead outside the main gate but failing to breach the walled compound. No Americans were killed.
Yemeni officials and experts on al-Qaeda said an aggressive new generation of the group’s leaders in Yemen was responsible for the assault, the deadliest attack on a U.S. target in this country since the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Yemeni security forces have begun to pursue al-Qaeda fighters more vigorously this summer, following years of complaints by U.S. officials that the government was not fulfilling promises to counter the group.
“The attack on the U.S. Embassy was retaliation by al-Qaeda for the measures taken by the government to fight the terrorists,” said Foreign Minister Abou Bakr al-Qurbi, according to a statement.
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State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington that the multiphased attack bore “all the hallmarks” of al-Qaeda and credited “the vigilance and the response” of Yemeni forces with preventing a more devastating assault. The government has received an average of nearly $40 million a year in U.S. economic and military aid since 2000.
The attack began at 9:15 a.m., when the sound of automatic weapons fire brought resident Yahyah Mousa to his roof overlooking the street outside the walled embassy compound.
“I saw soldiers shooting,” before a jarring blast flung pieces of metal, glass and flesh onto the roof, Mousa said. As he and his family fled their home, at least five more explosions sounded behind them, amid heavy gunfire, Mousa said. The blasts sent plumes of black smoke rising over this medieval city of narrow towers and cramped streets.
This article was posted: Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 10:52 am