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Militants Lay Claim to Rocket Attack on US Military Compound in Yemen

Al Qaeda-linked militants have claimed responsibility for an attack that targeted a compound near the US embassy in Yemen's capital.
September 27, 2014, 8:12pm
Photo by Hani Mohammed/AP

Al Qaeda-linked militants have claimed responsibility for a rocket attack that targeted a US army compound in Yemen's beleaguered capital Saturday.

US officials have denied reports that the rocket, which hit less than 100 meters away from the diplomatic compound in Sana'a, was specifically targeting the embassy, and said that regular operations at the embassy have not been affected.

A police source told Reuters that someone fired a M72 light anti-tank weapon at the US compound from a car before fleeing the scene. Several security guards were injured when the rocket exploded at the compound, according to local reports.

Houthi rebels strike peace deal with Yemeni government. Read more here.

We have no reason to believe the US Embassy was target. Chancery unaffected. Yemeni government looking into situation. — US Embassy Yemen (@USEmbassyYemen)September 27, 2014

Ansar al-Sharia, an al Qaeda-linked group, quickly claimed responsibility for the attack over the weekend, and said in claims posted to social media that it had directly targeted the US embassy, according to Reuters.

The militant group said the blast was in direct retaliation to a US drone strike, which reportedly killed two al Qaeda members and wounded several children in Yemen's northern Al Jawf province a day earlier.

Saturday's incident in Sana'a comes as Houthi Shiite rebels and the Yemen government continue to hold discussions to uphold a newly signed peace agreement that seeks to end the steadily escalating violence that has brought normal life in the capital to a grinding halt.

The Houthi rebels seized control of many key institutions in Sana'a in the days leading up to the signing of the UN-backed truce, leading to emergency negotiations and a subsequent power-sharing agreement.

Since the deal was negotiated, military activity has reportedly continued on both sides, including a rebel-led attack Saturday on the home of National Security Chief Ali al-Ahmadi, which lasted more than two hours.

US cluster bombs keep killing civilians in Yemen. Read more here.

— Mohammed Albasha (@Yemen411)September 27, 2014

Three people, including a soldier and two Houthis died in the clash, witnesses told Reuters. An additional 15 people — six soldiers and nine rebels — were injured.

A day earlier, the US government said it was starting to withdraw diplomatic officials from Yemen, and advised other American citizens to leave amid continuing political instability and fears of a civil war. Hundreds have died and more have fled their homes as clashes intensified in the area in recent weeks.

'Yemen: A Failed State.' Watch the VICE News documentary here.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: __@lianzifields