Demonstrators attacked the US embassies in Yemen and Egypt yesterday in protest at a film they consider blasphemous to Islam, while US warships headed to Libya after the death of the US ambassador there in related violence earlier this week.
Hundreds of demonstrators broke through the main gate of the heavily fortified compound in eastern Sana’a, shouting: “We sacrifice ourselves for you, Messenger of God.”
Earlier they smashed windows of security offices outside the embassy and burned cars.
“We can see a fire inside the compound and security forces are firing in the air. The demonstrators are fleeing and then charging back,” one witness said.
A security source said at least 15 people were wounded, some by bullets. An embassy spokesman said its personnel were reported to be safe.
In Egypt, protesters hurled stones at a police cordon around the US embassy in central Cairo after climbing into the embassy and tearing down the US flag. The state news agency said 13 people were injured in violence which erupted on Wednesday night after protests on Tuesday.
Gunmen staged a military-style assault on the US consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi, eastern Libya, on Tuesday. US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the assault, carried out with guns, mortars and grenades. Eight Libyans were injured.
US President Barack Obama vowed to “bring to justice” those responsible and the US military moved two navy destroyers toward the Libyan coast, in what a US official said was a move to give the administration flexibility for any future action against Libyan targets.
Obama said security was being increased at US diplomatic posts around the globe and yesterday the US consulate in Berlin, Germany, was partially evacuated after an employee fell ill after opening a suspicious envelope.
About 1,000 Islamists tried to march on the US embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, after protests earlier in the week outside US missions in Tunisia, Sudan and Morocco.
The US military dispatched a Marine Corps anti-terrorist team to boost security in Libya, whose former leader Muammar Qaddafi was ousted in a US-backed uprising last year.
The attack, which US officials said may have been planned in advance, came on the 11th anniversary of al-Qaeda’s attacks on the US on Sept. 11, 2001.
The attackers were part of a mob blaming the US for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammed. Clips of the Innocence of Muslims had been circulating on the Internet for weeks before the protests erupted.
The clips show an amateurish production portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser. For many Muslims, any depiction of Mohammed is blasphemous.
Among the assailants, Libyans identified units of a heavily armed local Islamist group, Ansar al-Sharia, which sympathizes with al-Qaeda and derides Libya’s US-backed bid for democracy.
Former militant commander Noman Benotman, now president of Britain’s Quilliam think tank, said Western officials were investigating a possible link with a paramilitary training camp about 160km south of the eastern Libyan town of Darnah.
US officials said there were suggestions members of al-Qaeda’s north Africa-based affiliate may have been involved.
Yemen, a key US ally, is home to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, viewed by Washington as the most dangerous branch of the militant network established by Osama bin Laden.