Story Highlights

  • Yemen: Protesters storm U.S. embassy, 1 killed, 5 wounded
  • Egypt: Thousands protest in Cairo, 13 wounded
  • U.S.: Obama speaks with Egypt, Libya leaders on security
Protesters climb a fence surrounding the U.S. embassy in Sanaa
Protesters climb a fence surrounding the U.S. embassy in Sanaa September 13, 2012. Photo by AFP
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Thousands of Muslims protested in Yemen, Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Thursday against a film they consider blasphemous to Islam.

In Yemen, hundreds stormed the U.S. embassy in Sanaa in protest. Al Arabiya reported that there was at least one person killed and five wounded in Sanaa, despite earlier reports by Yemen's embassy in Washington that no casualties were reported in the incident.

In Egypt at least 13 demonstrators were wounded.

The demonstrations followed Tuesday night's storming of the United States Consulate in Benghazi, where the ambassador and three other staff were killed. President Barack Obama said the perpetrators would be tracked down and ordered two destroyers to the Libyan coast, but there were fears protests would spread to other countries in the Muslim world.

Security guards at the heavily fortified compound in eastern Sanaa tried to hold the protesters off by firing into the air. Witnesses  said demonstrators smashed windows of the security offices outside the embassy before breaking through the main gate.

During the protest, young demonstrators shouted "we redeem, Messenger of God" and smashed windows of the security offices outside the embassy with stones and burned cars before breaking through the main gate of the heavily fortified compound in eastern Sanaa. Others held aloft banners declaring 'Allah is Greatest'.

Tires blazed outside the compound and protesters scaled the walls.

"We can see a fire inside the compound and security forces are firing in the air. The demonstrators are fleeing and then charging back," one witness told Reuters. Once inside the compound, they brought down the U.S. flag and burned it.

Film on Al-Jazeera television showed demonstrators jumping up and down on the parapet of the building and scaling the walls.

Witnesses said there were some people wounded on both sides but gave no exact figures.

The protests were triggered by an obscure video made in the United States that portrayed the Prophet Mohammad in insulting terms.

Yemen is home to al-Qaida's most active branch and the United States is the main foreign supporter of the Yemeni government's counterterrorism campaign.

The government on Tuesday announced that al-Qaida's No. 2 leader in Yemen was killed in an apparent U.S.-airstrike, a major blow to the terror network.

In Egypt earlier Thursday, at least 13 people were injured Thursday in clashes between security forces and protesters outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

U.S. President Barack Obama called on the leaders of Libya and Egypt to ensure the safety of U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel, the White House said Thursday.

Obama "underscored the importance of Egypt following through on its commitment to cooperate with the United States in securing U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel," the White House statement said.

Egypt President Mohamed Morsi said on Thursday that he supported peaceful protests, but that it was wrong to attack people or embassies.

"Expressing opinion, freedom to protest and announcing positions is guaranteed but without assaulting private or public property, diplomatic missions or embassies," Morsi said in a televised statement. He pledged to protect foreigners and condemned the killing of the U.S. envoy in Libya.

In Gaza City, dozens of people took to the streets to demonstrate over the film. Witnesses said the protesters burnt U.S. and Israeli flags and chanted, "Death to America! Death to Israel!"

They also burnt black-and-white pictures of a person believed to be the producer of the film. Some young men waved black flags of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a radical armed faction active in Gaza.

The protest was in Gaza City's Rimal neighburhood, which houses the headquarters of international organizations such as UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organization.

International organizations shut their offices for one day as a precautionary measure. The United States has no representation in Gaza. It has a consulate in East Jerusalem.

In Israel, the northern branch of the Islamic movement began demonstrating on Thursday afternoon opposite the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv , saying that the U.S. government sponsors "little people" who hurt Islam and Muslims.

The southern branch will carry out a similar protest on Friday which will start at the end of Friday prayers in all the Mosques in Rahat, and will terminate in the center of the city.  

In Kabul, government sources told Reuters on Thursday that Afghan authorities have ordered the YouTube website be shutdown "indefinitely" to stop Afghans watching a U.S.-made film they say insults the Prophet Mohammad.  

The shutdown will begin some time on Thursday, they said, adding it was ordered to prevent outbreaks of the violence seen in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere.