Monday, April 26, 2010

Yemen: British Ambassador Escapes Explosion

Via -

The British ambassador in Yemen narrowly escaped a suicide attack Monday, when a young man in a school uniform detonated his explosives belt near his armored car at a poor neighborhood of San'a, officials said.

The attack - the first such suicide bombing in the capital in a year - raised questions over the Yemeni government's U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida militants, who have found a haven in parts of the mountainous, impoverished nation where the central government's control is weak.

Washington has dramatically stepped up counterterrorism aid to San'a over the past year, warning that al-Qaida's offshoot in Yemen has become a global threat, particularly after it claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day attempt to bomb an American jet liner heading for Detroit.

A British Embassy spokeswoman said the ambassador, Timothy Torlot, was unhurt in the attack Monday morning, which wounded three bystanders, including a woman.

The ambassador's vehicle was passing through the impoverished San'a district of Noqm when the explosion went off nearby, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The explosion ripped apart the bomber, and his head was found on the roof of a house about 20 meters (yards) away, it said.

The ministry identified the bomber as a 22-year old high school student who hails from the southern town of Taiz.

Witnesses said the attacker was a young man who wore a school uniform, apparently as a disguise. Yemeni officials said the attacker was believed to have been wearing an explosives belt, adding that the Noqm district is known to be popular with militants.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida.


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. The suspect in the failed Christmas Day plane bombing plot has said he received training from militants in Yemen, according to U.S. investigators.

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