Yemen:4 Men with Explosives Caught Near US Embassy

Four Yemenis carrying explosives and guns were arrested near the U.S. embassy in San'a, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

The Ministry's statement didn't say when they were arrested. But senior security officials told The Associated Press last week they were on the look out for possible attacks against foreign interests in San'a.

The ministry said the four, aged between 20 and 33, had grenades, automatic weapons and ammunition in two separate vehicles. The men were residents of the northern town of Damag, home to one of the country's largest radical Sunni Islam teaching institutions, frequented by Yemeni, Arab and foreign clerics.

Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen has targeted the U.S. Embassy in the past. In September 2008, gunmen backed by suicide bombers assaulted the walled compound in an attack that left 19 dead, including six attackers. Months before that, militants fired mortars at the embassy but missed, hitting a nearby school and killing one Yemeni.

Washington has been pressuring Yemen to counter a rising al-Qaida threat more aggressively and improve intelligence sharing. U.S. officials said the government here has been preoccupied with fighting a Shiite rebellion in the north, at times at the expense of countering al-Qaida threats.

Yemen is the Arab world's poorest nation - and one of its most unstable - making it fertile territory for al-Qaida to set up camp. The ancestral home of Osama bin Laden's family, Yemen was the scene
to one of al-Qaida's most dramatic pre-9/11 attacks, the 2000 suicide bombing of the destroyer USS Cole off the Aden coast that killed 17 American sailors.


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