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Attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen

Embassy working closely with Yemeni officials to investigate
Posted: September 17, 2008  
On September 17, at approximately 9:15 a.m. a car exploded in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa. The initial explosion was followed by several secondary explosions and casualties were reported. The embassy and consular section will be closed following the incident. We will send further updates as information becomes available. The embassy Consular Section will be closed for routine services until further notice.

State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack
State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack
September 17, 2008

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This is a vicious attempt to try to breach the security of our Embassy in Sana’a. Fortunately, it did not succeed. The Embassy security upgrades that we have been putting in place over the past seven, eight years were, during this attack, effective in stopping the attack, along with the response of the Yemeni forces as well as the response of our American Embassy personnel.

Sadly, there was a loss of life. There – at current count, there is one U.S. Embassy guard, a Foreign Service National, a Yemeni national, who was killed during the attack. Several Yemeni security forces – personnel were killed in the attack. I don’t have an exact accounting for you at this point. And then, of course, some of the terrorist attackers were killed in the attack. I don’t have an exact count for you at this point of those numbers.

The attack occurred early morning hours, Washington time, probably about 3 o’clock in the morning. Staff – the initial reports of the attack – filtered back here to Washington. The Secretary was informed first thing this morning as soon as we had details. She spoke with our Ambassador in Sana’a, Ambassador Stephen Seche, probably about a quarter to 7:00 this morning to get an update on the Embassy, the security situation there.

At the moment, the Embassy is closed. Consular services until further notice will be closed, although we are reaching out to the American community in Yemen. We have issued two Warden Messages, one giving an update on the security situation and the second just a reminder regarding personal security and to maintain vigilance during this period of time. We are encouraging all American citizens in Sana’a and in Yemen to register with the Embassy if they have not yet done that. And that is – that is in terms of – in terms of the updates I have for you, about it.

I do have a – why don’t we go ahead and bring up the overhead. What I’m going to do is I’m just going to – if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to step away from the podium for a second. I’ll give you an idea of where the attack occurred.

We understand that there were two vehicle-borne bombs that were part of this attack. It was a sophisticated attack involving vehicle devices as well as personnel on foot. The first vehicle bomb exploded in this area right around the guard post. This is the main entrance right here. This is the chancery building here. So this is the main entrance. These are some – almost like Jersey barriers that were put in place as part of the upgrades. So we do – so the first vehicle exploded about here. Several minutes later, and we observed on videotape a vehicle going back and forth through these areas. It finally exploded in this area, which is very near a pedestrian entrance to the Embassy. In between the first and the second explosions, we observed attackers on foot taking positions in this area. And it’s our initial assessment that the attackers intended to try to breach the wall in this area and then have the attackers go on foot through this breach in the wall.

They didn’t succeed in this case, and it’s a testament, again, to the kind of security upgrades that we have put in place. It’s a testament to the vigilance and the response of the security personnel around the Embassy at that point in time. And we are looking at what further security steps we might take in the coming days to make sure the Embassy is protected.

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American Embassy
Public Affairs Office
Sana’a, Yemen

September 17, 2008

Press Statement

This morning, September 17, at approximately 9:15 local time, the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a Yemen was attacked by armed terrorists. A number of explosions occurred in the vicinity of the Embassy’s main gate and there were several secondary explosions. A number of Yemeni security personnel were killed and injured, as were several Yemeni citizens waiting to gain entry to the Embassy.

The U.S. Embassy condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms. Today’s events demonstrate that terrorist criminals will not hesitate to kill innocent citizens and those charged with protecting them in pursuit of their agenda of terror.

The Embassy is working closely with senior Yemeni government officials to investigate this incident. We will rely on continued close cooperation with Yemeni authorities to complete a thorough investigation and to bring the perpetrators of this heinous terrorist crime to justice.

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Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
September 17, 2008

Statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Attack on Embassy Sana’a

The United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. This attack underscores the malicious disregard for human life shown by the terrorists perpetrating this attack. No political cause justifies the murder of innocent people.

Fast action by Embassy security personnel and host nation Embassy forces, aided by the Embassy’s security systems and its emergency procedures, were vital in limiting the harm to Embassy employees and to the public who regularly visit the Embassy. This callous attack reminds us that American and locally-employed staff at our embassies serve the United States in many dangerous environments worldwide, often at great personal risk. We are proud of the work that they do.

I extend my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who were tragically killed or injured in the attack. Their sacrifices reinforce our commitment to remain vigilant and ready to defeat the forces of global terrorism.

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