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US embassies attacked in Yemen, Egypt

The US embassy has been attacked by demonstrators protesting a blasphemous film.

Yemen pro government protesters gather for a protest in Sanaa. Picture: AFP

CAIRO - Demonstrators attacked the US embassies in Yemen and Egypt on Thursday in protest at a film they consider blasphemous to Islam, and the United States sent warships toward Libya, where the US ambassador was killed in related violence this week.

In Libya, authorities said they had made four arrests in the investigation into the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi on Tuesday.

US President Barack Obama, facing a new foreign policy crisis less than two months before seeking re-election, has vowed to bring to justice those responsible for the Benghazi attack, which US officials said may have been planned in advance - possibly by an al Qaeda-linked group.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington had nothing to do with the crudely made film posted on the Internet, which she called "disgusting and reprehensible."

The amateurish production, entitled the "Innocence of Muslims," and originating in the United States, portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser.

For many Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous and caricatures or other characterizations have in the past provoked violent protests across the Muslim world.

Demonstrations spread further on Thursday, with US embassies again the targets of popular anger among Muslims questioning why the United States has failed to take action against the makers of the film.

Hundreds of Yemenis broke through the main gate of the heavily fortified US Embassy compound in Sanaa, shouting, "We sacrifice ourselves for you, Messenger of God." They smashed windows of security offices outside the embassy and burned cars.

A security source said at least 15 people were wounded, some by gunfire, before the government ringed the area with troops.

In Egypt, protesters hurled stones at a police cordon around the US Embassy in Cairo after climbing into the compound and tearing down the American flag. The state news agency said 13 people had been hurt in violence since late on Wednesday.

About 200 demonstrators gathered outside the US Embassy in Kuwait and hoisted banners, one of which bread in English: "USA stop the bullshit. Respect us."

In Bangladesh, Islamists tried to march on the US Embassy in Dhaka, and Iranian students protested in Tehran. Earlier in the week, there were protests outside US missions in Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan and state-backed Islamic scholars in Sudan have called a mass protest after Friday prayers.

The US ambassador to Libya was killed during a protest against the film when Islamists armed with guns, mortars and grenades staged military-style assaults on the Benghazi mission.

A Libyan doctor said Stevens died of smoke inhalation. US information technology specialist Sean Smith also died at the consulate, while two other Americans were killed when a squad of security personnel sent by helicopter from Tripoli to rescue diplomats from a safe house came under mortar attack.

Clinton identified the two as Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, former Navy SEALS who died trying to protect their colleagues.

In a statement, she said both Woods and Doherty had lengthy experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. It did not say in what capacity they were working in Benghazi.

In an interview with ABC News last month, Doherty, 42, said he was working with the State Department on an intelligence mission to round up and destroy shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

Thousand of those missiles disappeared in Libya after Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow by in a US-backed uprising last year, prompting concerns they could end up in the hands of al Qaeda militants.

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