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British ambassador escapes suicide attack in Yemen

SANA, Yemen — The British ambassador in Yemen narrowly escaped a suicide attack Monday, when a young man in a school uniform detonated his explosives belt near the diplomat's armored car in a poor neighborhood of the capital, officials said.

The attack in Sana was the first such suicide bombing in the capital in a year, and it cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Yemeni government's U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida militants, who have found a haven in parts of the mountainous, impoverished nation where the central government's control is weak.

Washington has stepped up counterterrorism aid to Sana over the past year, warning that al-Qaida's offshoot in Yemen has become a global threat, particularly after it claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day attempt to bomb an American jetliner heading for Detroit.

A British Embassy spokeswoman said the ambassador, Timothy Torlot, was unhurt in the attack Monday morning, which wounded three bystanders, including a woman.

The ambassador's vehicle was passing through the impoverished Sana district of Noqm when the explosion went off nearby, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The explosion ripped apart the bomber, it said.

The ministry identified the bomber as a 22-year-old high school student who hails from the southern town of Taiz.

Witnesses said the attacker was a young man who wore a school uniform.

Yemeni officials said the attacker was believed to have been wearing an explosives belt, adding that the Noqm district is known to be popular with militants.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida.

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband condemned the attack, saying it strengthens British resolve to work closely with Yemen "to tackle international terrorism."

British ambassador escapes suicide attack in Yemen 04/26/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 12:33am]

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