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Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 16:30 UK

Suspects held over Yemen blasts

Site of the attack on the US embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, on 18/09/08
Investigators will start shifting through the debris for evidence

At least 25 suspected militants have been arrested in Yemen over a double car bomb attack on the US embassy that killed 16 people, security sources say.

They were rounded up in various parts of the country after Wednesday's attack, and are being questioned by Yemeni and US investigators.

Four civilians, six Yemeni soldiers and six attackers died in the blasts.

The US said the attack bore all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, whose members have long used Yemen as a haven.

The Yemeni government, an ally in America's "war on terror", has often blamed the militant group for attacks on Western targets in the country.

Large round-ups of suspect militants by the Yemeni authorities are not unusual following terror attacks in the country.

A security source said the purpose of the latest round-up was to assess whether any of those arrested could have played a part in Wednesday's attack.

The source said a team of US investigators, possibly from the FBI, were travelling to Yemen to participate in the investigation.

A US embassy spokesman said this was standard procedure when US interests were attacked abroad.

An 18-year-old US citizen of Yemeni origin was reported to be among those who died.

Susan Elbaneh, from the state of New York, had travelled to Yemen to get married and was killed as she queued outside the embassy with her husband.

Claim of responsibility

The attackers targeted the heavily fortified embassy's main security gate in the capital, Sanaa, as staff were arriving for work.

As the first car bomb went off, the attackers - some of whom were reportedly dressed as policemen - ambushed the guards, firing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

We saw... a massive fireball very close to the US embassy
Trev Mason
eyewitness

"We heard the sounds of a heavy gun battle going on," witness Trev Mason, a British citizen who lives nearby, told CNN television

"I looked out of my window and we saw the first explosion going off, a massive fireball very close to the US embassy."

All those within the compound were safe, but the attack claimed the lives of six soldiers and four bystanders.

A group calling itself the Islamic Jihad in Yemen said it had carried out the latest attack, and threatened to target other foreign missions in the region unless its jailed members were released.

The authenticity of the claim could not be immediately verified.

The attack is the second on the embassy in the past six months.

Earlier this year, the US ordered the evacuation of non-essential personnel from Yemen after mortar bombs were fired towards the embassy. They missed but hit a nearby school.

The worst attack on a US target in Yemen happened in 2000, when suicide bombers allegedly linked to al-Qaeda blew up an inflatable raft next to the USS Cole in the port of Aden, killing 17 US soldiers.

US special forces have been helping the government fight the Islamist militants, but analysts say there has been only limited success in restraining militant groups.


SEE ALSO
Blasts rock US embassy in Yemen
17 Sep 08 |  Middle East
Yemen faces new Jihad generation
17 Sep 08 |  Middle East
Gunman attacks mosque in Yemen
30 May 08 |  Middle East
Japan tourists 'freed in Yemen'
07 May 08 |  Middle East
Blasts near Yemen Italian embassy
30 Apr 08 |  Middle East
'One killed' in Yemen explosion
18 Mar 08 |  Middle East

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