Mob Attacks U.S. Embassy In Yemen As Clashes Spread Over Anti-Islam Film
Filed by KOSU News in World News.
September 13, 2012
Violence sparked by an anti-Islam film and video clip has spread from Libya and Egypt to Yemen today, with protesters in the capital Sana’a storming the U.S. Embassy compound.
Chanting “death to America,” the Yemeni protesters broke through a security forces cordon and marched toward the embassy. The protesters reportedly got through the main gate but not into the embassy building itself.
Meanwhile, clashes continued near the U.S. embassy in Egypt and a U.S. Marine anti-terrorist team has been dispatched to secure U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya, where an attack earlier this week took the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
In Sana’a, demonstrators removed the embassy’s sign on the outer wall and set tires ablaze, The Associated Press reports. Once inside the compound, they brought down the U.S. flag and burned it, the news agency says.
Iona Craig, a reporter from The Times of London who was outside the embassy in Yemen, told NPR that it initially appeared that security forces allowed the hundreds of protesters to break the cordon.
Once protesters got about 60 meters beyond the cordon, security forces fired warning shots with AK-47s and machine guns. “Then everybody ran in panic,” she said.
Witnesses say that security forces have since restored calm at the embassy. Yemeni news agencies report that U.S. embassy staff had already been evacuated by the time violence broke out.
The anti-Islam film The Innocence of Muslims, produced in the United States and seen mostly via a trailer posted on YouTube trailer is the proximate cause of the unrest.
Authorities in Afghanistan have gone so far as to shutdown access to YouTube “indefinitely” to keep Afghans from seeing the film they say insults the Prophet Mohammad, according to NPR’s Soraya Sarhadi Nelson in Kabul. Authorities hope blocking the website will help prevent outbreaks of the violence. But she says the Internet provider has yet to receive official notification of the request to block the website and that it is still accessible.
NPR’s Leila Fadel, reporting from Cairo, says protesters there seemed to be less concerned about the film and more intent on provoking police, who were seen as a tool of oppression under the past autocratic regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
She says armored vehicles and riot police tried to disperse a crowd of a few hundred young men at the U.S. embassy compound there. Protesters were forced back into nearby Tahrir square and side streets by police using tear gas to disperse the crowd, Fadel says.
NPR’s Tom Bowman reports that more than 50 U.S. Marines have arrived in Tripoli to take up security duties at the American embassy, which has been reduced to emergency staffing levels after the consulate in Benghazi was attacked by armed assailants, killing the ambassador and three other diplomatic staff.
He says diplomatic posts around the world have been asked to review security procedures.
A senior administration official says there was a recent security review for the American consulate in preparation for anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to Bowman. But the official told reporters there was no indication of a heightened threat that would call for more security personnel. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]