SANAA, (AFP) — A Jordanian man attacked a car carrying Americans with a hand grenade in the southern suburbs of the Yemeni capital on Wednesday, a security official said on Thursday, but no injuries were reported.
“A man threw a hand grenade at a car carrying a number of Americans on their way to a restaurant,” said the official, adding that “the attack did not result in any injuries.”
“Security patrols were stationed in the same place and were able to arrest the attacker, an 18-year-old Jordanian” whose residency expired two months ago, the official said.
The attack took place in a “known diplomatic district,” he said.
The official did not say whether or not the Americans in the car that was attacked were diplomats.
An official at the US embassy confirmed that there had been an explosion, but did not provide further details.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said “in Yemen, we can confirm there was an attack on an embassy vehicle. Thankfully, those in the vehicle were not injured and we have an ongoing investigation.
“There were people in the vehicle, the bomb blew off outside the vehicle,” Crowley told reporters.
“Details are still sketchy (as to who was in the vehicle). I believe they were embassy personnel but we’re trying to specifically nail that down,” he added.
Yemen is the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden and the base for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and has been a launchpad for attacks targeting the United States.
Two parcel bombs were discovered en route from Yemen to the United States in late October, one in Britain and the other in Dubai, in a plot claimed by AQAP.
And on December 25, 2009, a Nigerian student was arrested after allegedly attempting to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit, in a failed attack that AQAP also claimed.
Yemeni security forces increased operations against AQAP amid heavy US pressure to crack down on the militant organisation after the December bomb plot.
Militants have also periodically attacked Western diplomats and embassies in Yemen.
A rocket-propelled grenade hit a British embassy car in Sanaa wounding three people including a diplomat in early October, and the British ambassador narrowly escaped being killed when a car bomb hit his convoy in Sanaa in late April.
Eighteen people, none of them US citizens, were killed when militants attacked the US embassy in Sanaa with a car bomb and rockets in September 2008.