Two killed, three injured in shootout near British Embassy

Monday, September 30, 2002

SAN'A, Yemen -- Two Yemeni men were killed and three others injured in a shootout near the British Embassy on Sunday when armed tribesmen insisted on driving their car through an off-limits area, a Yemeni official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the fight started when the embassy's Yemeni guards prevented a group of tribesmen, heading to a wedding, from crossing the roadblock in front of the embassy.

A Yemeni guard and a tribesman were killed and three people were injured, the official said.

The tribesmen included sons of parliamentary Speaker Abduallah al-Ahmar and their entourage who were heading to the wedding of one of al-Ahmar's daughters, the official Yemeni news agency quoted an Interior Ministry official as saying.

Several of the attackers were arrested, the official was quoted as saying. He gave no other details.

British Ambassador to Yemen Frances Guy said there were no injuries among the embassy staff.

"But we can hear the bullets coming in the embassy's direction," she told The Associated Press by telephone from inside the embassy.

Roads leading to the embassy were blocked, but reporters saw two injured attackers carried away in an ambulance.

Guns and explosives are widely sold in Yemen, a largely tribal society where weapons are carried openly by men and boys.

On Oct. 13, 2000, a bomb thrown at the British Embassy shattered windows there and of neighboring buildings and damaged an embassy generator, but caused no injuries. Four men, allegedly members of the outlawed Yemeni militant group the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, were convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Supporters of al-Qaida, the terrorist network believed behind the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, have claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings targeting security officials, government offices and foreign embassies in Yemen since the Sept. 11 attacks. Yemen's support for the U.S. war on terror is thought to have prompted the attacks.

The October 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in the Yemeni port of Aden was blamed on al-Qaida.

Yemen long has been a fertile al-Qaida recruiting ground and has vast tribal areas beyond government control where al-Qaida members are believed to be hiding.

Osama Bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia of a family that hails from Yemen.

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