UPDATE 3-Suicide bomber targets British ambassador in Yemen

* Blast carried out by suicide bomber

* Ambassador unharmed; British embassy closes

* Attack bore “hallmarks of al Qaeda” – Yemen

(Adds Yemen interior ministry statement, background)

By Mohammed Sudam

SANAA, April 26 (BestGrowthStock) – A suspected al Qaeda suicide
bomber targeted a convoy of the British ambassador to Yemen
early on Monday, killing himself and injuring three others, but
the envoy was unharmed, Yemeni and British officials said.

The hit “bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda”, Yemen’s interior
ministry said, a reminder that despite recent efforts by the
impoverished country to crack down on the global militant group,
its members were still able to carry out such violent attacks.

Ambassador Tim Torlot was on his way to the embassy when the
blast occurred, the ministry said. Two of the wounded were
security officials escorting the ambassador’s motorcade, while
the third was a bystander.

Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed that a small explosion
took place beside the ambassador’s car. He was unhurt and no
other embassy staff were injured, it said in a statement.

The embassy will be closed to the public indefinitely.

The suicide bomber was a young man dressed in sports gear,
the interior ministry said, citing security services. The force
of the blast scattered his body parts to the roofs of nearby
houses, the ministry said.

Yemen has for years been battling al Qaeda and other
militant groups. The regional wing of the militant group, Al
Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is based in Yemen and has
previously threatened and attacked embassies.

In September 2008, two suicide bombers set off a series of
explosions outside the heavily fortified U.S. embassy in Sanaa,
killing 16 people. The attack was claimed by a group called
Islamic Jihad in Yemen, which analysts said was linked to al
Qaeda.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s
explosion.

GLOBAL CONCERN

AQAP most recently claimed a bomb attempt on a U.S.-bound
plane in December and revelations followed that the suspected
bomber, a young Nigerian man named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,
had visited Yemen and had been in contact with militants there.

The failed December bomb plot heightened international
concern over Yemen’s instability and its global repercussions to
such an extent that a conference of Western and Arab donors was
convened in London to discuss ways to steady the impoverished
country.

Yemen, a neighbour to the world’s top oil exporter Saudi
Arabia, is also facing rising unrest in its south, where a
secessionist movement objecting to the rule of President Ali
Abdullah Saleh has been increasingly clashing with security
forces.

A brutal government crackdown has led to widespread arrests
and deaths on both sides.

In February Sanaa concluded a fragile truce deal with
northern Shi’ite rebels, who complain of discrimination by the
government, bringing to an end the latest round of heavy
fighting in a conflict that has raged on and off since 2004.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among those at
the February meeting who urged the government to enact reforms
and combat corruption, although no new money was pledged.

Yemen promised to work on reforms and to start talks on a
programme with the International Monetary Fund.

Theodore Karasik of the Institute for Near East and Gulf
Military Analysis said the attack signalled al Qaeda was still
active in Yemen.

“I think this shows al Qaeda is not disappearing and it has
been plotting and planning attacks in Yemen and abroad and I
think this is a new campaign of targeted assassinations,”
Karasik said.

The Yemeni authorities were investigating the area of the
blast which has been cordoned off, security sources said.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy said it was still open to
the public. The German embassy was also open for business, a
spokesman said, while a staff member at the French embassy said
they also remained open.

The British Foreign Office said it was advising all British
nationals in Yemen to keep a low profile and remain vigilant.
Stock Research

(Reporting by Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa and
Erika Solomon in Dubai; Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by
Dominic Evans)

UPDATE 3-Suicide bomber targets British ambassador in Yemen