Al Qaeda bomb attack on Iranian ambassador’s house in Yemen kills six
SANAA // A car bomb planted by Al Qaeda militants exploded near the home of Iran’s ambassador to Yemen on Wednesday, killing six people and injuring seventeen.
Ambassador Hossein Niknam was not at home when the attack took place in the diplomatic district of Hada in the capital Sanaa.
A guard inside the residence and five bystanders – including the son of an employee at the residence – were killed, according to two interior interior ministry officials.
The blast punched a hole in the ambassador’s residence and heavily damaged nearby homes and cars.
Mr Niknam is new to the post and presented his credentials to the Yemeni foreign ministry within the last week, according to Iranian state media.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told the semi-official Tasnim news agency that the ambassador was unharmed.
“The Sanaa explosion didn’t harm any Iranian diplomats,” Mr Abdollahian said.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap), Yemen’s local branch of the terror group, later issued a statement on Twitter claiming responsibility for the attack on the ambassador’s house, located next to the headquarters of Yemen’s main intelligence agency. The group has carried out similar attacks in Sanaa.
The car bombing comes after Shiite rebels known as Houthis captured the capital in September, routing fighters loyal to the Islamist Islah party and its tribal allies. The Houthis are accused of receiving backing from Shiite-dominated Iran, something the rebels deny.
Local Al Qaeda militants have been battling Houthis in the central region where the Shiite group and its allies aim to expand their territory.
Washington views Aqap as the most dangerous branch of the terror group as it has been linked to a number of foiled or botched attacks on the US.
The US has conducted a campaign of drone strikes in the country targeting suspected militants and offers aid to the country’s military. Civilian casualties in the strikes have angered many.
The latest attack was not the first targeting Iran in Yemen.
On January 18, Iranian diplomat Ali Asghar Assadi was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting outside the ambassador’s residence in what Tehran said was a kidnap attempt.
Al Qaeda Sunni extremists are still holding embassy staffer Nour Ahmad Nikbakht who was abducted in July last year.
* With reporting by Hakim Almasmari in Sanaa, Associated Press and Reuters
Published: December 3, 2014 04:00 AM