Qaeda claims attack on Italian embassy in Yemen

Sat May 3, 2008 11:33am EDT

DUBAI May 3 (Reuters) - An al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility on Saturday for a failed mortar attack on the Italian embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa three days ago.

"Al Qaeda Organisation in the Arabian Peninsula - Yemen Soldiers Brigades - claims responsibility for the blessed operation ... on the morning of Wednesday April 30, 2008, (that attacked) the Italian embassy building in Sanaa with two mortar shells," the group said in a statement posted on an al Qaeda-affiliated website.

It said the attack was aimed at expelling infidels from the Arabian Peninsula, home to Islam's holiest sites.

Two shells hit the parking lot of a customs building adjacent to the Italian embassy on Wednesday, but there were no casualties.

Last month, an al Qaeda-linked group said it fired three mortar shells at a complex housing Americans and other Westerners in Sanaa, in which no one was hurt.

In March, a school near the U.S. embassy was hit by mortars, injuring 13 girls and five Yemenis soldiers in an attack Washington said was aimed at its mission.

Yemen has seen a surge in small attacks on government buildings and foreign embassies in recent weeks.

The country, which joined the U.S.-led war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities, is seen in the West as a haven for Islamist militants accused of involvement in attacks on Western targets and clashes with authorities.

Yemen has also witnessed attacks on oil installations and U.S. and French ships in recent years. (Reporting by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Dominic Evans)