Wednesday, September 17, 2008

al-Qaeda blamed for Yemen terror blast

Al Qaeda has been blamed for the attack Wednesday at the US Embassy in Sanaa Yemen. At least 16 died in the attack the news of which broke on BBC News at around 10:11 GMT, some 4 hours after the attack. "We heard the sounds of a heavy gun battle going on," one British national, Trev Mason told CNN. "I looked out my window, and we saw the first explosion going off -- a massive fireball very close to the U.S. Embassy. The gun battle went on for a further 10 to 15 minutes, followed by two further loud explosions" he added.
The first explosion happened about 09:15 local time Wednesday [06:15 GMT] and was followed by several secondary blasts, said U.S. Embassy spokesman Ryan Gliha [CNN / BBC].
Security sources said six members of the Yemeni security forces, six attackers, and four bystanders were killed in the attack. According to reports the attackers were dressed in Yemeni army or police uniforms, reports differ, as they launched their assault at the gates of the US Embassy in the Yemini capital. Two car bombs were detonated followed by an assault with automatic weapons. But the attackers failed to breach the main gates and did not enter the inner compound. No US citizens were killed, however the incident highlights the continued threat that exists from al Qaeda and associated groups.

In October 2000 the USS Cole was damaged in a suicide attack in Aden which was subsequently blamed on al-Qaeda. Seventeen US personnel were killed. The British embassy was also bombed the same month but gained little coverage at the time. Since 9/11, attacks have increased significantly, and some have clearly been targeted at the flow of oil to the West. In October 2002 the Supertanker Limburg badly was damaged in attack [BBC]. Later, tourists were also in the firing line. A suicide bomber killed eight Spaniards and two Yemenis in the province of Marib in July 2007 [BBC] and attacks against tourists also occurred in 2008 [BBC].
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said today's explosions "bear the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda attack." Earlier CNN said that Islamic Jihaad in Yemen had claimed responsibility but could not verify the reports. But whatever name they take, the attacks are just as deadly. And with four attacks on the US Embassy in recent months, it won’t make America feel any more comfortable. The effects may also be felt far wider if there is a perceived threat to the oil industry in the Gulf. The timing of the attack certainly seems to have been intended to coincide with the recent turmoil on the financial markets; perhaps in an attempt to rock the market a little more.

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