SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen police said Friday they prevented a man from bombing a U.S. embassy car in Sanaa, and were investigating whether the Jordanian suspect, who was carrying fake identity papers, had ties to al Qaeda.
The U.S. State Department said Thursday an embassy vehicle was attacked in Sanaa Wednesday.
“On December 15, 2010, a U.S. Embassy vehicle was attacked in Hadda, a suburb of Sanaa, Yemen, where it was parked in front of a restaurant frequented by Westerners. We can confirm that four American embassy personnel were in the vehicle and no one was injured,” it said.
A Yemen security official told Reuters that Yemen police charged with protecting embassy staff caught the attacker when he tried to plant explosives next to the embassy car as it stopped outside a pizza restaurant in Sanaa.
The young man, a Jordanian citizen who is a resident of Yemen, had weapons and false identity papers in his car, the official said, adding that police were still trying to determine if he had links to al Qaeda.
Impoverished Yemen is struggling to combat a resurgent wing of al Qaeda based in the Arabian Peninsula state. It is also trying to quell a separatist rebellion in the south and maintain a shaky truce with Shi’ite insurgents in the north.
In October, the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for two U.S.-bound parcel bombs that were intercepted in Britain and Dubai. It was its second foiled attack on U.S. targets using aircraft.
The militant group also took credit for a botched attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound aircraft last December, and for two attempts to attack British embassy officials this year.
Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Erika Solomon; Editing by Jon Hemming