Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Iranian ambassador's house targeted in Yemen

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Three people killed but diplomat unharmed in suicide car bombing in Sanaa against backdrop of Shia Houthi-led offensive.


A suicide attacker driving a car laden with explosives attacked the Iranian ambassador's residence in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, killing three people, Yemeni security officials say.

Hossein Niknam, the Iranian diplomat, was not harmed in Wednesday's attack, which occurred in Sanaa's diplomatic district of Hada and heavily damaged several buildings in the area, the officials said.

Yemen's Interior Ministry said the victims included one of the embassy guards and two transpassers, a woman and a child, adding that that four others were injured, one of them critically.

Shia Houthi rebels allied with Iran took control of Sanaa in September and fanned out across the country, clashing with Sunni tribesmen and also with Yemen's local branch of al-Qaeda.

The US and Yemen's Sunni Gulf neighbours suspect Iran is meddling in the Arabian Peninsula state and there are fears of sectarian warfare spreading to other countries of the region.

However, Iran denies it is interfering in Yemeni affairs.

Hakim al-Masmari, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Yemen Post, says though no one has claimed responsibility for the incident, "it is possible that it was al-Qaeda behind the attack as the group often targets Yemeni state targets as well as Houthi rebels and Shias".

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Sanaa, Masmari said: "This is the first of many expected attacks that al-Qaeda has been threatening against Houthi and Shia targets as the Houthi offensive against al-Qaeda-backed tribesmen continues.

"This shows how tense the situation in Yemen is. Iran is seen as the one of the main backers of Houthis in Yemen."

Iranian diplomats have been targeted in Yemen in the past. One Iranian diplomat is still being held hostage by suspected fighters and another was killed this year when he resisted a kidnapping attempt.

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