Al-Qaeda splinter group claims attack on British ambassador

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Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the April 26 attack on Britain's envoy to Yemen Timothy Torlot in a statement posted Tuesday on jihadist forums, the US monitoring group SITE said.

Torlot narrowly escaped a bomb triggered by a suicide attacker who hurled himself at the ambassador's two-car convoy in a Sanaa street as it neared the British embassy compound.

The group identified the bomber as Othman Nouman al-Salawi -- confirming the identification given by Yemeni police -- and provided his picture, according to SITE.

The statement says that the bomber belonged to the "Sheikh Abu Omar al-Baghdadi" brigade.

The suicide bomber, whose body was torn into pieces, wounded three bystanders and damaged a police escort car as he hurled himself at the convoy and detonated his explosive belt.

The British embassy was closed for nearly two weeks after the attack, and reopened on Sunday.

Yemen's interior ministry had said the attack bore the "fingerprints of Al-Qaeda."

In the statement AQAP also attacked Britain for hosting in January in London an international conference on the Islamic militant threat against Yemen, Al-Qaeda leader's Osama bin Laden's ancestral homeland.

AQAP also attacked Britain for "plotting against the Arabian Peninsula, and for its role in the establishment of Israel," SITE said.

In Washington, the US State Department on Tuesday designated two senior AQAP leaders as members of a terrorist organization, which "will help stem the flow of finances" to the two individuals, the statement read.

The State Department say the men are Qasim al-Rimi, identified as the group's senior military commander, and Nayif al-Qahtani, who it says manages the group's operations in Yemen and is the liaison between Al-Qaeda cells in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The designations "directly respond to the threats posed to the United States -- and US interests in the Arabian Peninsula -- by AQAP and its senior leaders," said Daniel Benjamin, the Department of State's Coordinator for Counterterrorism.

The United Nations took similar action also Tuesday, "which will require all UN member states to implement an assets freeze, a travel ban, and an arms embargo against these individuals," the US statement added.


© 2010 AFP

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