British embassy attacked in Yemen

Gunmen attacked the British embassy in Sana'a from a fast-moving vehicle late yesterday. Splinters from a rocket-propelled grenade were also found inside the embassy, according to Xinhua. No casualties were reported and al-Qaeda is being blamed.

Meanwhile, a few more details have emerged of Sunday's attack in the southern province of Shabwa. The official news agency says15 "al-Qaeda members" were involved and that three of them were killed in addition to the six soldiers (or police) whose deaths were reported earlier. One of the dead attackers has been named as Zayid Ahmed Awadh al-Daghar, "a prominent al-Qaeda leader".

An article in the Yemen Post, by its editor, Hakim Almasmari, 
points out that continuing attacks attributed to al-Qaeda mainly benefit the Yemeni government – by strengthening international support for President Salih. Although these attacks are not confined to the south, Almasmari argues that they are particularly damaging for the southern separatist movement, raising fears "that if separation takes place, the south could be an al-Qaeda safe haven". Yemen, he writes, "is trying to picture to the world that the south is the backbone of al-Qaeda."

UPDATE, 27 July: The British embassy swiftly issued a statementdenying that it had been attacked:

The incident appears to have been an altercation between two Yemeni security officials responsible for the protection of the Embassy. A number of shots were fired. This was not an attack against the Embassy. No Embassy staffs were involved, nor hurt in the incident. No damage was done to Embassy property. 

We have taken the matter up with the Yemeni authorities. Further inquiries should be directed to them.