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Explosions Kill Two in Yemen

August 28, 1999

SAN`A, Yemen (AP) _ A car bomb exploded outside a supermarket in an upscale diplomatic neighborhood Saturday, killing at least two people in the most serious blast in the capital since Yemen’s 1994 civil war.

Glass shards and charred debris littered the tree-lined streets near several foreign embassies. Death toll reports ranged from two to six, and 12 people were injured.

Several suspects were arrested and being questioned, according to an Interior Ministry statement. Initial indications were that the motive was not political, it said without elaborating.

The Turkish Embassy was heavily damaged, and doors and windows were blown out in homes and offices up to a half mile away. No diplomatic personnel were reported injured or killed.

The U.S. Embassy, six miles away in the capital’s eastern suburbs, was not affected, but the home of U.S. cultural attache Chris Eccles was slightly damaged. Eccles was on vacation, a U.S. Embassy employee said on condition of anonymity.

Offices of the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, which assists in elections worldwide, also were damaged.

Businessmen said the supermarket’s owner _ Abdullah al-Omairi, who died in the explosion _ may have been the target. Last week, al-Omairi advertised in area newspapers that his partners hadn’t fulfilled their duties so he was taking sole ownership of the store, a popular place among foreigners.

Earlier this month, Islamic fundamentalists responsible for the December kidnapping of 16 Western tourists _ four of whom died in a botched rescue attempt _ had threatened to continue to target foreigners.

There was no claim of responsibility for the blast, or for two others in southern Yemen. Hours earlier in the southern port city of Aden, a bomb caused slight damage near the National Bank building. And in nearby Zinjibar, a bomb went off in front of the prosecutor’s office.

No injuries were reported in those explosions. Authorities refused to speculate if the three blasts were related.

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