WASHINGTON, Sept 17, 2008 (AFP) - The White House on Wednesday denounced an Islamist militant attack on the US embassy in Yemen’s capital Sanaa and offered condolences to the relatives of Yemenis killed in the strike.
“The United States condemns this attack,” said spokesman Gordon Johndroe. “This attack is a reminder of the continuing threat we face from violent extremists both at home and abroad.”
Islamist militants struck the high-security compound with a car bomb and rockets, leaving 16 dead in the second attack on the high-security compound in six months.
President George W. Bush was briefed on the attack, and directed no halt in US-Yemen cooperation against extremists.
“We will continue to work with the government of Yemen to increase our counter-terrorism activities to prevent more attacks from taking place,” said Mr. Johndroe.
The dead were six Yemeni soldiers, four civilians including an Indian and six attackers — one wearing an explosives belt, the interior ministry said, while a US official in Washington said there were no American casualties.
A group calling itself Islamic Jihad in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened similar strikes against the British, Saudi and United Arab Emirates missions in the Yemeni capital.
Witnesses said a fierce firefight erupted after gunmen raked Yemeni police guarding the heavily fortified embassy compound, before a suicide bomber blew up a car at the entrance, setting off a fireball.
A series of explosions followed as the compound came under rocket and small arms fire, they said, adding that the force of the bomb blast sent pieces of flesh a hundred meters (yards) away.
In March, a schoolgirl and a policeman were killed and 19 people wounded in a hail of mortar fire that US diplomats said targeted the embassy in Yemen, which has been battling a wave of attacks by Al-Qaeda militants for years.