(CNN) -- Suspected Islamic insurgents disguised as Yemeni forces launched a Wednesday morning attack against the U.S. Embassy in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, killing 10 Yemeni police and civilians, U.S. and Yemeni officials said.
The attack involved two car bombs, Yemen's Embassy spokesman in
Washington said. Six attackers, including a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest, were also killed in the attack, Mohammed al-Basha said.
No U.S. Embassy employees were killed, a senior State Department official said.
The U.S. official told CNN that the attackers initially opened fire
outside the embassy's security gate, then there was the main explosion followedby a secondary explosion.
Those killed include six Yemeni policemen and four civilians, he said,
noting that the number of wounded is unclear.
Yemen believes al Qaeda is responsible, al-Basha said. Media reports
said Islamic Jihad in Yemen -- which is affiliated with al Qaeda -- has claimed responsibility for the attack, but CNN could not independently confirm those reports.
Trev Mason, a British national who lives near the embassy, said he saw "a massive fireball" near compound.
"We heard the sounds of a heavy gunbattle going on," he told CNN. "I
looked out my window, and we saw the first explosion going off -- a massive fireball very close to the U.S. Embassy.
"The gunbattle went on for a further 10 to 15 minutes, followed by two
further loud explosions."
The first explosion happened about 9:15 a.m. Wednesday (2:15 a.m. ET) and was followed by several secondary blasts, said U.S. Embassy spokesman Ryan Gliha.
Gliha was at the embassy at the time of the attack and said he felt the
"We were all ordered to assume what we call a duck-and-cover position which is a position where we guard ourselves and bodies from potential debris,"
Gliha told CNN's American Morning. "From that vantage point, I can't tell you much after that except we did feel several explosions after the main explosion that shook the ground."
Al-Basha called it a "despicable and heinous act" especially because its
during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Witnesses told CNN they heard gunfire, and said they saw ambulances
rushing from the scene.
Yemeni officials said the first car contained people in police uniforms
who exchanged fire with Yemeni security forces, the officials said. The second car exploded after it passed an outermost gate to the Embassy but before it reached a second protective barrier, the officials said.
But al-Basha said there were two cars packed with explosives involved in the attack.
The U.S. State Department has warned of violence that it attributes to
Islamic extremists in Yemen. It has cited concern "about possible attacks by extremist individuals or groups against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses and perceived interests."
The State Department ordered the departure of all non-emergency American staff from the Embassy, along with their family members, in April, after attacks against the Embassy and a residential compound. That order was lifted last month.
In March, three mortar rounds landed near the Embassy, injuring Yemeni
students at a nearby school and Yemeni government security personnel, the State Department said.
The next month, an expatriate residential compound in the Hadda
neighborhood was attacked by mortar fire. Suspected extremists fired two mortar rounds toward the Yemen Customs Authority and Italian Embassy in April, as well, but no one was hurt.