Heavily armed militants opened fire on the United States Embassy in Sana, Yemen, on Wednesday and detonated a car bomb at its gates, in an attack that left at least 16 people dead including six of the attackers.
From the Associated Press:
Attackers armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and at least one suicide car bomb assaulted the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital on Wednesday. Sixteen people were killed, including six assailants, officials said.
The U.S. said no Americans were hurt.
Multiple explosions rang out outside the heavily-guarded facility, and gunfire raged for at least 10 minutes at the concrete checkpoints that ring the compound. The dead included six attackers, six Yemeni guards and four civilians, the state news agency SABA reported. Security officials said people lined up for visas were among those killed or wounded.
It was the deadliest attack on a compound that has been targeted four times in recent years by bombings, mortars and shootings. Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, has struggled to put down al-Qaida-linked Islamic militants, often to the frustration of U.S. counterterrorism officials.
Just last month, the State Department allowed the return of non-essential personnel and family members who had been ordered to leave after a volley of mortars targeted the embassy. The attack instead hit a girls high school next door, killing a Yemeni security guard and wounding more than a dozen girls.
In the 9:15 am attack Wednesday, gunmen in a vehicle attacked a checkpoint outside the embassy with RPGs and automatic weapons, Yemeni security officials said. During the assault, suicide bombers in a vehicle made it through the checkpoint and hit a second, inner ring of concrete blocks, and detonated, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
From the New York Times:
No Americans were killed or wounded in the blast or when guards began to return fire, said a Yemeni official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.
Yemeni security officials and witnesses said the death toll was at least 16, including four bystanders, one of them an Indian woman. The other dead were six attackers and six security guards, the Yemeni officials said, speaking in return for anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
Yemen’s official Saba news agency also reported that 16 people were killed.
Ryan Gliha, an embassy spokesman, said via e-mail that the attack took place at 9:15 a.m. The embassy would remain closed for now, he said, but gave no further details.
It was the deadliest attack in years on an American target in Yemen, a poor south Arabian country of 22 million where militants aligned with Al Qaeda have carried out a number of recent strikes.
The attack began when a car raced up to the heavily fortified embassy compound. Several attackers got out and began firing rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles at the guards who returned the fire, the Yemeni official said.
A second car then drove into the compound’s gate and exploded in what appeared to be a suicide bombing, the official said.
The attack was especially shocking to many Yemenis because it came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.