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Iran’s envoy to Yemen targeted

December 3, 2014

A suicide attacker has detonated a car bomb at the Iranian ambassador's residence in Yemen, killing at least two. The local al Qaeda affiliate has claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter.

Yemen: Sanaa
Image: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah

Wednesday's attack blew a hole into the residence of new Iranian Ambassador Hossein Niknam and sent rubble flying across the street of the well-guarded diplomatic quarter of the city. It mirrored past bombings carried out by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the global terror network's Yemen branch, a mostly Sunni Muslim group that often targets state institutions and Shiites. AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told the news agency IRNA that officials in Tehran would count on Yemen to "quickly identify and punish the culprits behind the terrorist act."

A medical official said the attack had killed at least two people and wounded 17 others, mostly passersby. Security officials said the ambassador survived the attack unhurt - having left his residence for the embassy 10 minutes before the explosion.

Pattern of aggression

Iran, the Middle East's major Shiite Muslim power, backs Yemen's Houthi movement, which took part of the capital, Sanaa, in September and has since seized swaths of the country's north and center. AQAP has fought against Iran's influence in Yemen and rejected the political ascendancy of the Houthis. The group even claimed responsibility for a bombing in Sanaa on October 9, when a suicide attacker struck a Houthi checkpoint, killing 47 people.

Previous attacks have targeted Iranian diplomats in Yemen. One suspected Sunni group currently holds an Iranian diplomat hostage, and another died while resisting a kidnapping attempt earlier this year.

Iran has supported Yemen's Houthi rebelsImage: DW/Saeed Al Soofi

Leaders from around the region and the world have expressed worry that instability in Yemen could strengthen al Qaeda. They have supported a UN-backed political transition to democracy led by embattled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after decades of autocratic rule by his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh, still a prominent political figure.

mkg/lw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)