SANAA (AFP) — Three rockets were fired late on Sunday at villas where US oil experts live in Yemen's capital, next to a residential complex for other Westerners, residents said, in the latest attack to hit a country plagued by Al-Qaeda-linked violence.
Security officials confirmed that rockets had been fired but gave few other details. One security official was quoted by state media as saying there were no casualties.
Residents told AFP that three rockets truck near the villas where American oil experts from the former Hunt Oil firm, now called Safer and owned by Yemen, live.
The villas are behind a residential compound in the Al-Hadda neighbourhood of southwestern Sanaa. Foreigners, including Westerners and Arabs, live in the compound which also houses the offices of Safer oil company.
Police cordoned off the area, residents said. They also closed off roads leading to the US embassy in the northwestern sector of Sanaa.
Security forces later evacuated foreign residents from the area shaken by the blasts in coordination with US embassy officials, according to witnesses. It was not clear where the foreigners were taken.
A security source told the defence ministry mouthpiece September 26 that three rockets had been fired at a building housing both Yemenis and foreigners, shattering glass.
He did not give further details. Other state media quoted a security official as saying there were no casualties.
Suspected Al-Qaeda militants have carried out several attacks in recent years in Yemen, ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in October 2000 that killed 17 US sailors on the destroyer USS Cole in the southern port of Aden.
Only last month, Al-Qaeda's wing in Yemen, which calls itself Jund Al-Yemen Brigades, claimed in an Internet statement to have targeted the American embassy in Sanaa in an attack that hit a nearby girls' school.
A schoolgirl and a policeman were killed and 19 people were wounded in the March 18 attack which Washington said targeted the US embassy.
In a statement posted on an Islamist militant website, the Jund Al-Yemen Brigades said it "launched five mortar shells at the American embassy in Sanaa."
The US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant websites, said the statement did not give a date for the attack but acknowledged that one shell missed the target and hit the neighbouring school.
Yemen, an Arabian Peninsula republic which is one of the world's poorest countries, is awash with weapons. The government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been battling suspected Al-Qaeda extremists at Washington's behest since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday's attack.
Yemen has also been shaken by a Shiite insurgency in the country's mountainous northwest that has claimed thousands of lives since 2004.
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