SANAA, (AFP) – The United States has deployed a Marine anti-terrorism unit to Yemen to help protect the American embassy in the face of angry demonstrations, the Pentagon said Friday.
“This is partly as a response to events over the past two days at a our embassy in Yemen but it’s also in part a precautionary measure,” spokesman George Little told reporters.
“A FAST (Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team) platoon is now on the ground in Sanaa,” the Yemeni capital, with a contingent of about 50 US Marines, he said.
There were no immediate plans to evacuate the Yemen embassy, he added, after local security forces fired warning shots and water cannon to disperse hundreds of protesters trying to reach the compound.
The demonstrators, angered by a film produced privately in the United States and deemed insulting to Islam, gathered about 500 meters (yards) away from the embassy compound and burnt the American flag.
Similar protests in other cities with large Muslim populations, including Cairo, Khartoum, Tunis, Lahore and Mumbai, were also under way.
The US government moved to bolster security at outposts around the world after a deadly attack on the American consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi killed the US ambassador and three compatriots late Tuesday.
There had been no reports of attacks on US military bases in the Middle East, Little said, adding that in Afghanistan, protests had remained peaceful.
After Tuesday’s assault in Benghazi, the US Navy deployed two destroyers to Libya’s coast, with officials calling it a “prudent” step.
US military commanders and intelligence officers were working to track down the militants who laid siege to the Benghazi consulate, employing spy satellites, drones and special forces as needed, officials said.