Car bomb at U.S. embassy kills 16 (Yemen)

A car bomb set off a series of explosions outside the heavily fortified U.S. embassy in Yemen on Wednesday and a Yemeni security source said at least 16 people, including six attackers, were killed.

A U.S. embassy official confirmed that the blasts were caused by a car bomb and that there were reports of casualties.

“This morning a car exploded at the main gate of the embassy in Sanaa. There was an initial explosion and several secondary explosions,” a U.S. embassy spokesman told Reuters by telephone.

“We do have reports of casualties. Right now, I cannot confirm the number, nor the nationality nor the severity of the casualties.”

A group calling itself Islamic Jihad in Yemen claimed responsibility for the bombing and threatened attacks on other embassies including those of Britain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

It had threatened in a previous statement on Tuesday to launch a series of attacks unless the Yemeni government met its demands for the release of several members from jail.

“We, the organization of Islamic Jihad in Yemen declare our responsibility for the suicide attack on the American embassy in Sanaa,” the statement read.

“We will carry out the rest of the series of attacks on the other embassies that were declared previously, until our demands are met by the Yemeni government.”

Smoke was seen rising from the heavily fortified U.S. compound in Sanaa and ambulances and fire engines raced to the scene, which was cordoned off by police, witnesses said.

The security source said that six attackers and four bystanders were killed, while the rest were Yemeni security forces.

Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, has grappled with a spate of al Qaeda attacks this year, including one on the U.S. embassy, another near the Italian mission and others on Western tourists.

An al Qaeda-affiliated group claimed responsibility in March for a mortar attack that missed the U.S. embassy but wounded 13 girls at a nearby school.

The United States ordered non-essential staff to leave Yemen in April, a day after an attack on a residential compound.

The Yemeni government joined the U.S.-led war against terrorism following the September 11 attacks on U.S. cities in 2001.

It has jailed dozens of militants in connection with bombings of Western targets and clashes with authorities, but is still viewed in the West as a haven for Islamist militants.

The government of the poor Arab country has also been fighting Shi’ite rebels in the northern province of Saada since 2004 and faced protests against unemployment and inflation.

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Over half of married women under 15, says report (Yemen)

Sanaa, 9 June (AKI) – Over half of women who marry in Yemen are under 15 years of age, said a field study conducted by Yemen’s Women and Development Study Centre, which is affiliated with the University of Sanaa.

According to the study which was cited in the Yemen Times newspaper, the rate of child marriage among females in Yemen reached 52 percent, compared to less than seven percent among males.

On top of that, in rural parts of Yemen, girls usually get married at an average age of 12 to 13 years old.

The parliament in Yemen is reportedly working to raise the minimum marriageable age, which currently stands at 15 years old and so far there is no punishment for those families who allow their daughters to marry under this age.

“Recently the case of early marriage in Yemen has come to light, especially after the divorce of a little girl last month,” said Amatalrazaq Hummad, Yemen’s Minister of Social Affairs, in an interview with the Qatari daily Al-Watan.

Hummad was referring to the case of ‘Noujoud’, the first eight-year-old child to obtained a divorce from her husband who is in his early 30s, through a court in Sanaa. n [digg=http://digg.com/world_news/52_of_Married_Women_Under_15_Years_Old_Yemen]