Thousands of Yemenis on Friday (September 14th) continued to protest a movie deemed offensive to the Prophet Mohammed.
While some protests were peaceful, others flared into violence as protesters headed for the US embassy. Yemeni security forces fired warning shots, tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters, a day after similar confrontations left four dead.
On Thursday, the situation escalated and the US embassy was broken into, prompting security forces and anti-riot police to intervene and disperse demonstrators by firing live bullets and tear gas, which led to four deaths and dozens wounded.
On Friday, protesters assembled about 500 metres from the embassy compound and burned the American flag, as they called for the expulsion of the US ambassador to Yemen, an AFP correspondent reported.
Security forces blocked all roads leading to the embassy and dispersed the protesters, but tensions remained high on the streets.
The storming of the embassy drew broad condemnation from Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the national reconciliation government, and various political parties and religious figures.
In a statement carried by official news agency Saba, the Yemeni president said he "deeply regrets the wanton attack on the US embassy in Sanaa", adding that he formed a committee to investigate the incident.
President Hadi conveyed his "personal apology to President Barack Obama and to the people of the United States for what happened".
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the film as "disgusting and reprehensible" and said "the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video."
Imam Amiredeen, who led prayers at the peaceful demonstrations on Friday, said that an attack on the US embassy was "an attack on Islam".
Meanwhile, the [national] reconciliation government expressed regret and strongly rejected the attack.
A government statement said the attack is "unfortunate and rejected by all the Yemeni people, taking into consideration that the producer of this disgraceful and immoral film has no relation to the government or the official position of the American government".
Houriya Mashhour, human rights minister in the reconciliation government, told Al-Shorfa she strongly condemns the acts of violence and the storming of the US embassy.
"Angry [citizens] have the right to express their views peacefully, and we strongly condemn the movie, which insults our Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him," she said, adding that the movie is a great crime against a major religious symbol for Muslims.
"This incident is offensive to Yemen and [injurious to] its relationship with its strategic allies, led by the United States," Mashhour added, noting that some parties infiltrated the angry protesters and exploited their anger at the movie to carry out their own plans.
Political parties and organisations in turn condemned the violence and embassy storming. The Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) issued a statement condemning the incident and called for the issuance of international legislation that criminalises prejudice against religions.
JMP leader Sultan al-Atwani told Al-Shorfa, "The incidents that took place in front of the US embassy in Sanaa are unfortunate," he said, adding, "Angry citizens have the right to express their views by peaceful means and methods."
Al-Atwani demanded an immediate investigation into the incident, and that those involved be named and the results of the investigation be announced to the public.
Sheikh Hassan al-Sheikh, under-secretary of the Ministry of Endowments and a member of the Yemeni Scholars Association, told Al-Shorfa, "Muslims have the right to be angry [about the insult to] their prophet, but [must express that anger] through peaceful means."
"Attacks against the embassy, its staff or tourists target guiltless people. Justice must be done through legal channels and diplomatic means," he added.
"The citizens, embassy or interests of the country of the person who insulted our Prophet must not be attacked, that would be wrong," al-Sheikh said.
"The punishment must be applied to the offender, not innocent people. Attacking the citizens of countries with which our country has agreements and treaties is wrong," he said, adding that the Prophet treated his adversaries well.
"Stirring up passions and zeal leads to prohibited actions, which is what actually happened and resulted in a number of casualties," he said.
Caricaturist Essam al-Harazi told Al-Shorfa, "We have the right to express our dissatisfaction; but the situation escalated into acts of violence and resulted in casualties among the citizens."
He said protests must remain peaceful and punishment must not be dealt to all for the wrongdoing of one person or group.
The Yemeni Committee for Military Affairs and Achieving Security and Stability issued a statement denouncing the attack on the US embassy and categorising any attack against government institutions, embassies, consulates, and the public and private sectors as condemnable terrorist acts of sabotage.
The statement said protection details, officers and all security personnel have explicit instructions to deal firmly with any form of violence, destruction, or vandalism.