U.S. sends Marines to Yemen; new clashes outside embassy

SANAA Fri Sep 14, 2012 2:00pm EDT

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SANAA (Reuters) - The United States has sent a platoon of Marines to Yemen after demonstrators stormed the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa in protest over a film deemed to insult the Prophet Mohammad.

Yemeni security forces battled hundreds of youths on Friday, using batons, water cannon and teargas to beat back protesters, a day after demonstrators stormed the compound.

Four protesters were killed on Thursday and 48 people were wounded, including 10 members of the security contingent assigned to guard the embassy, the Interior Ministry said on its website. A further four people were injured on Friday, a Reuters witness said.

No embassy staff were hurt, but the mission said it expected more protests against the film and that it would be closing its consular services on Saturday.

The Pentagon said on Friday that a platoon of Marines had been sent to Yemen to bolster security at the embassy and was now on the ground in Sanaa.

A source at the Yemeni Foreign Ministry confirmed about 50 Marines had arrived in Sanaa early on Friday on a flight from Bahrain. A Yemeni news website had earlier reported that 150 Marines had arrived in Yemen on Thursday.

The storming of the embassy embarrassed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a U.S. ally who quickly offered an apology to President Barack Obama and ordered an investigation into the incident.

The demonstrators were angered by a film produced in the United States which they say is blasphemous to Islam. It has sparked angry protests across the region, with violent attacks on embassies in countries including Sudan, Tunisia and Egypt.

Military police and soldiers had blocked off all streets in Sanaa leading to the U.S. Embassy early on Friday, but hundreds of protesters still gathered, brandishing placards and shouting slogans which attacked the film and called for the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador.

TEARGAS, WATER CANNON

"Today is your last day, ambassador!", read one placard, while another said: "America is the devil".

Demonstrators repeatedly charged police lines to reach the embassy compound, only to be met with barrages of teargas and from water cannon and to be beaten back by police batons. Security forces also fired shots in the air to keep the crowd at bay.

"We can forgive anything, except to insult the Prophet," said a teenage protester who identified himself as Motahar. Another teenager, Mahmoud, said: "We are going to keep demonstrating until the United States bans the film."

Protesters blamed the United States for the film, posted on YouTube under several titles, including "Innocence of Muslims". Washington has condemned the film.

Thursday's demonstration started as a peaceful march but quickly turned violent when protesters threw stones and placards before attacking the embassy compound.

Yemen, a key U.S. ally, is struggling against multiple challenges since mass protests forced long-serving President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down last year.

The United States, eager to help the country recover from the upheaval that has put the impoverished state on the verge of collapse, has said it would provide $345 million in security, humanitarian and development assistance this year, more than double last year's aid.

Yemen is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is viewed by Washington as the most dangerous branch of the militant network established by Osama bin Laden.

The Yemeni army has been waging a military campaign against AQAP. Washington has been providing logistical support, including the use of drones to target militants.

The Yemeni protests followed Tuesday night's storming of the U.S. Consulate and a safe house in Benghazi, Libya, in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed. Obama said the perpetrators would be tracked down and ordered two destroyers to head to the Libyan coast.

The Libyan authorities have said they had have made four arrests in the investigation into the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the three others.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari and Khaled Abdullah; Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Pravin Char)

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Comments (1)
Bodhisattva wrote:
I think that the person responsible for all these calamities should be held accountable and tried by the Hague as a war criminal. This purported film producer/director Nakoula Basseley Nakoula also known as: Sam Bacile who the authorities are identifying as a Jewish film maker; this man knew going into his production of this film that it would cause a negative sensation that could potentially be reason for innocent people to lose their lives. Being warned and counselled not to do so, he did so anyway. The upheaval of this is still be felt and people are still dying. Therefore, in doing these heinous acts and inciting death in many places, this man and his co-conspirators are war criminals and are no better than the Nazis in WWII. This man, this self proclaimed anti-islamic educator of the world has fuelled this entire projected based on his sentiments of hate and intolerance towards others. I sincerely hope that the U.S. deports him to the E.U. for international war trials court at the Hague and that they try him and his co-conspirators and hold them accountable for all the death and destruction they have incited. Give them all life sentences in prisons with hard labour.

Sep 15, 2012 3:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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