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Five arrested in attack near US embassy

By Owen Weldon     Mar 20, 2008 in Crime
On Thursday an Interior Ministry official said that Yemeni police arrested five suspects in a mortar attack that targeted the U.S. Embassy but struck a girl's high school next door instead.
More than a dozen girls were wounded and a Yemeni guard was killed by three mortar rounds that appeared to have been fired Tuesday from the rooftop of a nearby building.
The ministry official gave no further details about the attackers, motivation for the attack or their identities and he spoke on the anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
The mortars were fired in the downtown San'a district of Sawan and wounded 13 girls, three of them seriously, and wounded five soldiers.
On Tuesday the state department said that embassy officials came to the conclusion that the attack was directed at the embassy. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said that Washington will be looking to work with Yemeni authorities as they investigate the incident.
Spokesman Ryan Gliha said that nonessential staff was informed that they will be permitted to leave Yemen and the Embassy will provide free flights to staff members unwilling to remain.
The ministry official at first suggested that the attack might have been linked to a dispute between a teacher and school administrators. According to the official, the school had received a warning two days earlier from the teacher's family.
Al-Qaeda was blamed for the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole destroyer in the Yemeni port of Aden that killed 17 American sailors and an attack on a French oil tanker that killed one person two years later. Despite Yemen's efforts to destroy Al-Qaeda, the group remains an active presence in Yemen.
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