Anti-film protesters target US embassy in Yemen as Egypt protests continue

Protesters in Yemen's capital broke through a fence at the US embassy and stormed the compound. In Cairo, confrontations between police and rioters included firebombs and tear gas.

Hani Mohammed/AP
Yemeni protesters climb the gate of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic.

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Rioting against a US-produced anti-Islam film spread to Yemen and continued in Egypt, as protesters attacked the US embassy in Sanaa and demonstrated outside the embassy in Cairo.

Agence France-Presse reports that protesters in the Yemeni capital breached a fence of the US mission on Thursday and briefly stormed the compound, but were driven back by security forces. Haaretz reports that witnesses said there were some injuries among both demonstrators and security forces, though the embassy released a statement saying that there were no casualties, and that Yemeni government security had secured the US compound.

"Fortunately no casualties were reported from this chaotic incident. The government of Yemen will honor international obligations to ensure the safety of diplomats and will step up security presence around all foreign missions," the statement read.

Young demonstrators in Sanaa shouted "we redeem, Messenger of God" and smashed windows of the security offices outside the embassy with stones and burned cars before breaking through the main gate of the heavily fortified compound in eastern Sanaa. Others held aloft banners declaring 'Allah is Greatest'.

Protests also continued at the US embassy in Cairo, where the initial anti-film demonstrations in the Muslim world began on Tuesday. Some 200 protesters reportedly clashed with Egyptian security forces outside the embassy on Wednesday night and through Thursday morning in a series of running confrontations involving firebombs and tear gas. Ahram Online writes that most of the protesters were young and unbearded, unlike Tuesday's protesters. 

A state news agency alleged that the protesters are members of Ultras groups – bands of soccer fans with radical political ideologies – and that they tried to break into the embassy compound, though security forces drove them back. However, at least one Ultras group, The Ultras White Knights, denied being involved in any violence, though they admitted to protesting.

"Our members are not present around the US embassy now. We stress that our participation in the demonstrations was peaceful, we just wanted to send a message (to authorities)," Ultras White Knights said in a statement on their Facebook page in the midst of the clashes by dawn.

"We condemn and reject the continuation of the same repressive and unfruitful tactics used by security forces in dealing with such situations."

The White House has ordered US embassies around the world to step up security as the threat of attacks continues, and the Associated Press reports that guards and police special forces were seen carrying assault rifles outside the embassy in Manila, Philippines. Bloomberg writes that Nigeria has stepped up its security outside the foreign diplomatic buildings as well.

The AP also writes that, according to US officials, the White House has ordered two destroyers to positions off the coast of Libya. The two Tomahawk-missile-laden warships do not have a specific mission, the officials said, but will be in a position to quickly respond to incidents within the region.

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