By Ian Swanson - 09/13/12 10:50 AM EDT
Protesters in Yemen attempted early Thursday to breach the security walls of the U.S. Embassy in the wake of separate attacks on U.S. compounds in Egypt and Libya.
Television footage showed hundreds of people gathered around the embassy in Sanaa, with dozens seeking to scale fences around the perimeter.
A report by Bloomberg said police had cordoned off the area near the embassy, preventing all access to it.
The attack in Libya left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador to that country. It also appeared that the Libya attack might have been a planned event orchestrated by a terrorist group, although U.S. officials have not offered any confirmation.
Police in Egypt on Thursday sought to keep protesters away from the U.S. Embassy by shooting tear gas into crowds of demonstrators on the street, according to televised footage.
The violence comes in the post-Arab Spring era of the Middle East and hints at the challenges the U.S. government faces in dealing with new governments in the region, particularly in Egypt.
President Obama in a television interview with Telemundo said he didn’t consider Egypt to be a friend or an enemy of the United States. “I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident,” he said.
The violence in the Middle East has become an issue in the presidential race between Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who criticized Obama’s response. Romney himself came under criticism from the president and some Republicans for his comments, which some said were tone-deaf in the wake of the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
This story was updated at 7:05 a.m.