Outrage over the film “Innocence of Muslims” that denigrated the Prophet Mohammad spread Thursday to Yemen, where thousands of protesters rushed the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, while more demonstrations erupted outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
Groups of protesters, whose numbers grew thick at certain places, circled the embassy in Sana’a, resulting in multiple demonstrations around the compound. The demonstrators managed to breach the area past the embassy’s main gate but were stopped at the security perimeter.
“Smoke is rising, they just flooded the security barriers. [There are] no casualties. [There is] shooting. It’s crazy,” a Yemeni official told ABC News. Yemeni forces threw tear gas as protesters were seen scrambling over fences and the main gate, firing gunshots as they tried to stop the demonstrators.
Protesters in Sana’a removed the embassy’s sign on the outer wall and set tires ablaze, The Associated Press reported. Once inside the compound, they took down and burned the U.S. flag. Security guards at the embassy fired warning shots to stop them.
According to a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Yemen, all personnel are safe. “Initial reports are that all embassy personnel are safe and accounted for,” the spokesman said early Thursday. A senior official in the Obama administration said that the Yemeni government had aided the U.S. in maintaining order.
“We are doing everything we can to support our mission in Yemen. We’ve had good cooperation from the Yemeni government, which is working with us to maintain order and protect our facilities and people. These protests appear to be motivated by the film,” the official said.
Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, president of the Republic of Yemen, extended sincere apologies for the attacks, the Yemeni embassy in Washington, D.C. said in a statement released early Thursday.
“President Hadi ordered the authorities to conduct an expeditious and thorough investigation into today’s events. He ensured the public that the perpetrators of these acts will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. He described the protesters as a ‘rowdy group’ that acted without any knowledge on conspiracies to derail Yemeni-American relations,” the embassy said in the statement.
The protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo turned violent again Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Security forces had to fight off the protesters, who managed to break through a barbed wire barrier, with tear gas and warning shots. The efforts of security forces managed to push demonstrators back more than 600 feet to Tahrir Square.
Outrage over the “Innocence of Muslims” has spread throughout the region, with Muslims chanting “Death to America” outside the embassy in Cairo. Just who made the movie still remains a mystery. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview near Los Angeles that he was a manager of the company that produced “Innocence of Muslims.”
Nakoula denied that he’d directed the film, and said he knew the self-described filmmaker, who uses the pseudonym name Sam Bacile. But the cell phone number the AP used Tuesday to contact the filmmaker was traced to the same Los Angeles area address where the AP found Nakoula.