The fallout from an inflammatory anti-Muslim video made in the United States continued to fester throughout the Arab World, spreading to Yemen on Thursday as hundreds of protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy.
There were also reports of 500 protesters marching on the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, chanting “Death to America.” Switzerland handles American interests in that country because the U.S. has no formal diplomatic ties with Iran. Local police held the crowds at bay, but the Swiss evacuated the compound as a precaution.
The latest developments come two days after radicals murdered the American ambassador to Libya and crowds tried to overrun the embassy compound in Cairo. The Egyptian protesters scuffled with police for a third consecutive day, while Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a militant Shiite group in Iraq, warned that the video “will put all American interests in danger.”
Yemeni security forces had tried to disperse a crowd at the fortified embassy compound in the capital city of Sana. Protesters, however, broke through an outer perimeter protecting the embassy, clambering over a high wall and setting fire to a building.
They were forced to retreat after trying to plunder furniture and computers, the witnesses told the New York Times.
Security forces guarding the embassy fired into the air as protesters set fire to two vehicles and burned tires. Protesters tore down and burned an American flag, replacing it with their own banner proclaiming the Islamic faith, witnesses said.
There were no immediate reports of American casualties or that the protesters had managed to breach the main diplomatic buildings within the compound.
The protests in Yemen came hours after a Muslim cleric, Abdul Majid al- Zandani, urged followers to emulate the protests in Libya and Egypt. Zandani, a onetime mentor to Osama bin Laden, was labeled a “specially designated global terrorist” by the United States Treasury Department in 2004.
Meanwhile, U.S. Marines and naval vessels continue to head for Libya, where American ambassador, John Christopher Stevens, and three staff members were killed on Tuesday in an attack on the U.S. consulate.