From Yemen to Egypt and Iraq to Indonesia, rising anger provoked by an anti-Islam film has seen protestors storm U.S. embassies in Muslim countries around the world.
Chanting ‘death to America’, hundreds of protestors marched on the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen’s capital today, where they burned the American flag, used stones to smash windows, and set fire to cars, before breaking through the main gate of the heavily fortified compound in eastern Sana’a.
The attack followed Tuesday night’s storming of the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya – where the U.S. ambassador and three other staff were killed.
Security has been ramped up at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, and at least one cemetery for American veterans, while President Obama called the leaders of Libya and Egypt to continue helping him to ensure the safety of diplomatic personnel.
One of those killed in Benghazi alongside U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was 42-year-old Glen Doherty, a family friend told CBS Boston today.
There were protests in Tunisia, Sudan and Morocco overnight, and the demonstrations have reached Cairo and Baghdad.
Today riot police in Indonesia were standing guard outside the U.S. Ambassador’s Jakarta residence in anticipation of further action.
Once inside the compound in Sana’a, Yemeni protestors brought down the U.S. flag, burned it and replaced it with a black banner bearing Islam’s declaration of faith – ‘There is no God but Allah.’
Before storming the grounds, demonstrators removed the embassy’s sign on the outer wall, set tyres ablaze and pelted the compound with rocks.
Yemeni security forces who rushed to the scene fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators and were eventually able to drive them out of the compound. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was inside the embassy at the time of the attack.
Some protestors held aloft banners declaring ‘Allah is Greatest’. Tyres blazed outside the compound and protesters scaled the walls.
‘We can see a fire inside the compound and security forces are firing in the air. The demonstrators are fleeing and then charging back,’ one witness said.
It was similar to an attack on the US Embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Tuesday night.
Witnesses said there were some injuries on both sides but gave no exact figures.
Yemen, a key U.S. ally, is home of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is viewed by Washington as the most dangerous branch of the militant network established by Osama bin Laden.
Yemen is fighting an al Qaeda-backed insurrection largely in the south of the country. Its embassy in Washington did not report any casualties.
An embassy statement said Yemen’s government condemned the attack by protesters angry at a film seen as insulting to Islam, adding security forces had restored order at the complex.
‘Fortunately no casualties were reported from this chaotic incident. The government of Yemen will honour international obligations to ensure the safety of diplomats and will step up security presence around all foreign missions,’ the statement read.
The violence has raised worries that further protests could break out around the Muslim world as anger spreads over the film.
Yemen is home to al Qaida’s most active branch and the United States is the main foreign supporter of the Yemeni government’s counter-terrorism campaign.
Overnight there were further clashes outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, as well as protests in Tunisia, Sudan, and Morocco.
In Cairo, protests continued into early hours of this morning near Tahrir Square, the site of Egypt’s massive uprising last year.
With further street violence and demonstrations expected, Britain, the U.S. and their European allies stepped-up security at their embassies and consulates.
In Tunis, the Tunisian capital, police fired teargas and rubber bullets into the air to disperse a protest.
Around 200 protesters burned U.S. flags and chanted slogans such as ‘Obama, Obama, we are here for the triumph of Islam’.
The government on Tuesday announced that al Qaida’s No 2 leader in Yemen was killed in an apparent US airstrike, a major blow to the terror network.
The film Innocence of Muslims came to attention in Egypt after its trailer was dubbed into Arabic and posted on YouTube.
The video-sharing website blocked access to it yesterday.
The trailer depicts Mohammed as a fraud, a womaniser and a madman in an overtly ridiculing way, showing him having sex and calling for massacres.
As the scenes continued to spread to U.S. consulates in countries across the Middle East riot police were deployed to the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Indonesia.
The building in Jakarta was heavily guarded by riot police today, in anticipation of similar Muslim protests over the ‘blasphemous’ film.
In Germany the consular section of the U.S. embassy in Berlin was partially evacuated after an employee began struggling to breathe when he opened an envelope sent to the building.
Two other consular employees also felt unwell after touching the visa application papers contained in the envelope.
The three members of staff who handled the papers were sent to hospital, and dozens of other employees were evacuated from the embassy while police investigate.
U.S Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed in a fire started when the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was stormed on Tuesday.
In response to the attacks the U.S. has launched a major military manhunt to find the terrorists responsible, announcing it is to send warships to the coast of Libya.
American drone aircraft are also expected to join the apparent terrorist hunt.