Yemeni police Thursday shot dead a protester and wounded five others when they opened fire on a crowd attempting to storm the US embassy in Sanaa to protest a film mocking Islam, a security official said.
The shooting came as protesters, chanting "O, messenger of Allah... O, Mohammed," launched a second charge on the complex which they had stormed earlier but were ejected by the security forces.
President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi apologised to his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama and the American people for the acts of a "mob" and ordered a probe.
"Those who are behind (the attack) are a mob that are not aware of the far-reaching plots of Zionist forces, especially those who made a film insulting the prophet," said Hadi.
Some protesters said they saw three vehicles being torched by some of the demonstrators after they gained access to the compound through an unguarded security gate.
After being evicted from the complex on their first assault, protesters retreated about 100 metres (yards) from the gate, gathering near a checkpoint where they chanted anti-Jewish slogans.
Protesters torched a number of diplomatic vehicle as security forces used water cannons and warning shots in a bid to drive them out.
Young protesters, shouting “we sacrifice ourselves for you, Messenger of God”, smashed windows of the security offices outside the embassy with stones and burned at least five cars as they broke through the main gate of the heavily fortified compound in eastern Sanaa, the witnesses said.
“We can see a fire inside the compound and security forces are firing in the air. The demonstrators are fleeing and then charging back,” one witness told Reuters.
A security source said at least 15 people were wounded, some from bullets and 12 people were arrested.
“Initial reports are that all embassy personnel are safe and accounted for,” an embassy spokesman told Reuters by telephone as the clashes continued.
The attack followed Tuesday night’s storming of the United States Consulate and a safe house in Benghazi, where the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other staff were killed. President Barack Obama said the perpetrators would be tracked down and ordered two destroyers to the Libyan coast.
Protesters also attacked the U.S. embassy in Egypt and there were fears demonstrations would spread to other countries in the Muslim world.
Demonstrators blamed the United States for the film depicting the Prophet Mohammad in terms seen as blasphemous by Muslims and which was condemned by Washington.
Witnesses said security forces in Yemen made no effort to stop the demonstrators as they marched towards the embassy compound. Some held banners declaring ‘God is Greatest’, while others scaled the embassy gate as tyres blazed outside.
The protesters threw stones and some smashed light bulbs and signs before attacking the security offices and the compound.
Security guards fired in the air to hold back the demonstrators before Yemeni police reinforcements arrived at the scene and used tear gas.
Witnesses said dozens of youths later regrouped and tried to break into the compound from the back.
State news agency Saba said President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi condemned the attack and set up a committee to investigate, following reports security forces had failed to stop the demonstrators from reaching the compound.
Yemen, a key U.S. ally, is struggling against multiple challenges since mass protests forced long-serving President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down last year.
The attack comes two days after four Americans including the ambassador were killed when a Libyan mob attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and protesters in Cairo tore down the Stars and Stripes and replaced it with a black Islamic flag.
The low-budget movie, “Innocence of Muslims” in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.
The film is believed to mock the Prophet Mohammed by touching on themes of pedophilia and homosexuality.