Sixteen people were killed when the US Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen, was attacked with a car bomb and rockets today. One blogger was minutes away from the explosions.
Carpetblogger, an American who lives in Turkey but was travelling in Yemen, writes:
Sitting in the lobby of the Burj al Salam hotel about an hour ago,we heard two explosions, but thought little about them. They were close enough to shake the windows a little. About 30 minutes later, reports started coming in that the US Embassy was under attack. Current reports on Yemeni TV say that there was an intial car bomb followed by some shooting. Injuries are reported. Right now, reports attribute the attacks to Al Qaeda, which has been increasingly active in the country. The US Embassy is located near the Sheraton hotel. Reports confirm that it was the Embassy and not the compound.
Her next report says:
Local news is reporting that the embassy is being evacuated by helicopter. I just watched a helicopter head out there. Have photos, no time to load.
From Saudi Arabia, American Stilettos in the Sand rules out Yemen as a ‘good holiday destination' following the attack. She writes:
Not that we were considering heading to Yemen in the near future, but… This means that for SURE we won't be considering Yemen as a vacation destination. Ever. It is not the first time this year that the Westerners have been targeted. And, after reading this article in Gulfnews, I just think it would be best for us to consider
other more inviting countries to head to for short vacations.
Jane Novak, writing at Armies of Liberation has more on the attack here. She adds:
Notably, Yemen is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden and the U.S. Embassy has previously been targeted for attacks […]
The last time we heard from Yemeni Islamic Jihad was last month when they claimed credit for a suicide car bombing in Hadramout, and threatened a future attack in the capital.
Novak, who covers Yemen in her blog, also lists previous suicide car bombings in the country:
September 2006 synchronized attacks on oil facilities in Marib and Hadramout
July 2007 car bombing at tourist facility in Marib killed eight Spanish tourists
July 2008 car bombing a police station in Sayoun Hadrmaout, one killed and 18 wounded
Early in 2008, mortar attacks were launched in Sanaâ€™a against western targets including the US embassy, Italian embassy and a western housing complex. After the July 2008 suicide bombing killed one policeman and injured 18 in Sayoun in the southeastern province of Hadramout, authorities rounded up over fifty suspected militants including AAIA leader Khalid Abdul Nabi and Saudi Muhammad bin Nayif al-Qahtani. After the arrests, Yemen announced that it had thwarted an attack in Saudi Arabia targeting oil industries. For history and analysis of al-Qaeda in Yemen, check my al-Qaeda category.