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Attacks on British embassy, oil company in Yemen

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Bloody attacks in Yemen
  • NEW: Yemen and the United States "strongly condemn" the attack on a British vehicle
  • The second attack happened at the office of a gas company
  • A French national working for the company was killed

(CNN) -- Two separate attacks on foreign interests in Yemen Wednesday left one French national dead and several other people wounded, officials said.

The first attack happened on a vehicle east of the capital carrying five British Embassy staff. One person inside the vehicle was hurt along with at least two people outside the car, the British Foreign Office said.

The second attack took place at the Sanaa office of the Austrian oil and gas company OMV, when a security guard opened fire. A French national who worked for the company was shot and killed, OMV and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

"This shameful attack on British diplomats will only redouble Britain's determination to work with the government of Yemen to help address the challenges that country faces," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.

The Yemeni Embassy in Washington "strongly condemned the cowardly attack" on the British vehicle, spokesman Mohammed Albasha said.

Video: Foreign targets attacked in Yemen
  • Yemen
  • Sanaa
  • Middle East

"The actions of al Qaeda operatives will not deter our commitment to combat terrorism," he said, adding that Yemeni civilians and security forces had also been the victims of violence.

The United States also strongly condemned the attack on the British.

"The deliberate targeting of civilians is an abhorrent act," the U.S. Embassy in Yemen said, adding that such attacks "inevitably have resulted in casualties amongst innocent Yemeni civilians. Our thoughts and deep sympathies are with the families and friends affected by this horrible act."

Eyewitnesses and security officials at the scene of the attack on the British vehible said they believed it was a rocket attack, based on rocket fragments they saw at the scene.

The vehicle was on its way to the embassy when it was attacked, the British Foreign Office said.

There were conflicting reports on the number of civilians wounded in that attack. Eyewitnesses said a local woman and her child were wounded and taken away by ambulance. An embassy spokeswoman said there was "one minor casualty" and security forces said three people were wounded, but not seriously.

The incident is under investigation and security officials were at the scene, Gen. Yahya Saleh, director of Yemen's Counterterror Unit, told CNN.

The attack at OMV's office left a French employee of the company dead and a British contractor wounded, the company said.

"OMV currently sees no political background for the action taken by the Yemeni security guard," the company said in a statement. "OMV is in direct contact with the contractor companies and the embassies to provide full support."

The gunman was apprehended and police were investigating, the company said.

OMV said it has been active since 2003 in Yemen, a country it says is a core part of its operations in the Middle East. It said it has high travel restrictions in place for employees there.

In April, the British ambassador to Yemen survived an apparent suicide bomb attack on his convoy in Sanaa. The British Foreign Office said there was a small explosion next to the ambassador's car but neither he nor other embassy staff were hurt.

The alleged suicide bomber was killed, the Yemeni Embassy in Washington said at the time.

CNN's Eileen Hsieh, Mohammed Jamjoom, Mila Sanina, Caroline Faraj, and Winnie Andrews contributed to this report.