Hundreds of protesters angered by an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen’s capital on Thursday, as security was increased at American embassies and consulates around the world.
American missions have been attacked in three Arab nations Yemen, Egypt and Libya that have faced persistent unrest and are struggling to restore law and order after last year’s revolts deposed their authoritarian regimes.
Protesters smashed windows as they breached the embassy perimeter and reached the compound grounds, although they did not enter the main building housing the offices.
Yemeni security forces who rushed to the scene fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, driving them out of the compound after about 45 minutes and sealing off the surrounding streets. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was inside the embassy at the time of the attack.
Demonstrators removed the embassy’s sign on the outer wall, set tires ablaze and pelted the compound with rocks.
The Yemeni Embassy in Washington condemned the attack and vowed to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats and to step up security measures around their missions in the country.
It was similar to an attack on the U.S. Embassy in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday night. A mob of Libyans also attacked the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday, killing American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The spreading violence comes as outrage grows over a movie called “Innocence of Muslims”. The amateurish video was produced in the U.S. and excerpted on YouTube.
Reject unlawful acts, says Morsy
Egyptian protesters clashed on Thursday with police near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for the third day in a row. Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters and the two sides pelted each other with rocks. But unlike Tuesday, the police kept the protesters away from the embassy’s compound.
The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, said 16 protesters and 13 policemen were wounded in the clashes, which broke out overnight and were ongoing. Twelve protesters have been arrested, it said.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy, speaking while on a visit to Brussels, vowed on Thursday not to allow attacks on foreign embassies in Cairo, saying the Egyptian people reject such “unlawful acts.”
U.S. embassies step up security
Meanwhile, security was increased at American embassies and consulates around the world, while the U.S. urged its citizens abroad to be vigilant.
Guards and police special forces were seen carrying assault rifles outside the U.S. Embassy in the Philippine capital Manila, while embassy guards gestured to a photographer to stop taking pictures.
President Barack Obama ordered increased security at American missions around the world after Benghazi attack.
Indonesia’s government has condemned the anti-Islam film. But there has been no public reaction so far in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Officials called on Indonesians to stay calm ahead of Friday prayers.
The U.S. Embassy in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, issued a security message to American citizens advising them to pay close attention to their surroundings and to avoid large crowds that might turn violent.
“These events are a reminder to all of us that the security situation in any location can change rapidly and in unexpected ways,” it said.
Indonesia’s government has asked Google, which owns YouTube, to help block online access to “Innocence of Muslims,” said Gatot Dewabroto, a Communication Ministry spokesman. It was available on Thursday morning, but could not be viewed by afternoon.
“The movie has hurt Muslims all over the world deeply. They deliberately wanted to make Muslims angry,” said Amidan Shaberah, a prominent cleric at the Indonesian Ulema Council. “We urge Indonesian Muslims to calm down because the majesty and greatness of God and the Prophet Mohammed will not be diminished by these insults.”
In Malaysia, a U.S. Embassy official said it was not the embassy’s policy to comment on its security measures. But the embassy said in an advisory on its website that “based on recent events in Cairo and Benghazi, there is the possibility of demonstrations taking place in Kuala Lumpur.”
The embassy said it had no information about any planned demonstrations but noted that in the past, such gatherings could occur near the embassy on Fridays. It advised U.S. citizens in Malaysia to “exercise general caution, be aware of their surroundings, and avoid large crowds or gatherings.”
In the Philippines, diplomats had asked for additional police personnel and patrols for the seaside compound that houses the U.S. Embassy, as well as a nearby residential complex and the consulate in the central city of Cebu, ahead of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S. Officials said the heightened security would be maintained indefinitely following the attack in Libya.
In Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people largely split between a Muslim north and a Christian south, the U.S. Embassy issued a warning saying that “extremists may attempt to target U.S citizens and other Westerners.”
In Iraq on Thursday, hundreds of Shia followers of the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
“No, no, to Israel! No, no to America!” thousands shouted in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City in northeast Baghdad.
Afghanistan’s government, meanwhile, sought to avert any protests as past anger over perceived insults to Islam has triggered violence in the country.
President Hamid Karzai cancelled an official visit to Norway and spoke by phone with Mr. Obama to convey his condolences for the deaths of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other diplomats, a statement said. He also discussed the “film and the insulting of holy Islamic values,” but the statement provided no other details.