Yemeni security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb which struck the residence of Iran's ambassador in Sanaa, on December 3, 2014
Yemeni security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb which struck the residence of Iran's ambassador in Sanaa, on December 3, 2014 © Mohammed Huwais - AFP
Yemeni security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb which struck the residence of Iran's ambassador in Sanaa, on December 3, 2014
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AFP
Last updated: December 3, 2014

Car bomb hits home of Iran envoy in Yemen, one dead

Banner Icon Al-Qaeda's local branch on Wednesday said it was behind a car bombing outside the residence of Iran's ambassador to Yemen, where Tehran is accused of backing Shiite militia, that killed one person and wounded 17.

A car bomb Wednesday targeted the residence of the Iranian envoy to Yemen, where Tehran is accused of backing Shiite militias, in an attack that left one dead and was claimed by Al-Qaeda.

Ambassador Hassan Sayed Nam was away from home when the attack took place in the diplomatic district of Hada in the capital Sanaa, a security official said, adding 17 people were also wounded.

Ansar al-Sharia, the main arm of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, said its members detonated a car loaded with explosives after parking it next to the ambassador's residence.

The militants said on Twitter they had been able to breach "strict security measures" imposed by police and the Shiite militants known as Huthis before setting off the bomb shortly after 9:00 am (0600 GMT).

The son of a guard at the residence was killed, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saba news agency.

Two of the 17 wounded were guards and the rest passers-by, officials said.

The blast left a hole in the outer wall of the house, and nearby homes and cars were also damaged.

Yemen's interior ministry launched an investigation into the attack, which government spokesman Rajih Badi said threatened the country's "top interests".

Shiite Huthi militiamen who have overrun the capital quickly cordoned off the area, which is near the intelligence headquarters in Sanaa, according to residents.

It was not the first attack 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.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told the Arabic-language Al-Alam television channel that "no Iranian diplomat was wounded" in Wednesday's attack.

- 'Foreign plots' -

Violence has increased in Yemen since Huthi militia, also known as Ansarullah, swept into Sanaa in September.

The Huthis are accused of receiving backing from Shiite-dominated Iran.

Their attempt to advance in regions south of Sanaa has been met by deadly resistance from Al-Qaeda insurgents who are active in the country, as well as tribes in central Yemen.

President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has decried "foreign plots" that he says are aimed at blocking progress in the impoverished country.

In September Hadi, a Sunni originally from the south, urged Iran to be "reasonable" in dealing with Yemen.

He said "internal and foreign forces" had allied to disrupt the political transition following a 2011 uprising that ousted veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In September Yemen reportedly freed two Iranians said to be members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards who were accused of having trained the Shiite militia fighters.

Al-Qaeda's leader in Yemen last month accused the Huthis of collaborating with the United States and Iran to try to "destroy" Sunni Muslims.

Last month, Al-Qaeda's media branch claimed on Twitter that its fighters set off explosive devices at an entrance to the US embassy in Sanaa, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

There has been no confirmation by US authorities of such an attack.

Washington regards the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, as the most dangerous part of the jihadist network and has been waging a drone war against it for years, with the backing of first Saleh and more recently Hadi.

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