Yemen official says rocket hits near British embassy car, wounding diplomat and 3 bystanders

By Ahmed Al-haj, AP
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Yemen: Rocket attack targets British embassy car

SAN’A, Yemen — A rocket attack on Wednesday damaged a British diplomatic car in the capital San’a, wounding three bystanders and an embassy staffer, a Yemeni and British officials said.

The attack comes a day after a top U.S. official was visiting the country to discuss the security situation and less than six months after a suicide bomber attacked the British ambassador’s car in San’a.

A British Foreign Office official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, confirmed that there was an attack on a British Embassy vehicle in San’a, and “one minor casualty” among embassy staff.

The embassy’s armored car was struck by shrapnel from the attack, the Yemeni security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The blast comes two days after Yemeni authorities boosted security in the capital around embassies on information of an attack planned by Al-Qaida and ahead of a visit by the third-ranking U.S. diplomat William Burns to consult on regional security.

In April the British ambassador was targeted by a suicide bomber who blew himself up near the diplomat’s armored car in a poor neighborhood of the capital, San’a. The ambassador was unharmed.

The attacks continue to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Yemeni government’s U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida militants, who have found a haven in parts of the rugged, mountainous nation where the central government’s control is weak.

Yemen says it is waging an aggressive campaign to uproot al-Qaida, and Washington has earmarked some $150 million in military assistance to the government to help combat the threat with training, equipment and intelligence help.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Osama bin Laden’s terror network, was formed more than a year ago when Yemen and Saudi militant groups merged. Militants are believed to have built up strongholds in remote parts of the country, allying with powerful tribes that resent the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The group’s fighters attacked the U.S. Embassy in San’a twice in 2008, and earlier this year a number of Western embassies, including the U.S. and British, shut down for days in response to threats of attack.

The Nigerian suspect in the failed Christmas Day plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner has said he received training from al-Qaida militants in Yemen, according to U.S. investigators. In February, the offshoot’s military commander, Qassim al-Raimi, warned of further attacks against Americans.


Associated Press Writer Danica Kirka contributed to this report from London.

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