Yemen attack kills scores
Forensic policemen collect evidence at the site of a suicide bomb attack at Sanaa’s Sabeen Square. The suicide bomber is a rogue soldier, according to officials. AP photoA suicide bomber infiltrated a military parade rehearsal in Yemen’s capital Sanaa yesterday, killing at least 96 troops and wounding around 300, in what was one of the deadliest attacks in the city in months.
The unidentified bomber detonated his explosives as soldiers from the government’s central security forces, commanded by a nephew of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, rehearsed for an army parade to mark the 22nd anniversary of the unification of north and south Yemen, according to a military official. Yemen’s defense minister, Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, was present at the time of the explosion but escaped unharmed, the official added. Witnesses said human remains were scattered across the site of the blast at Sanaa’s Sabeen Square, where the Yemeni government often holds large military parades. The attack left a scene of carnage, with scores of bleeding soldiers lying on the ground as ambulances rushed to the scene.
One of the investigators said preliminary findings suggested the suicide bomber was a rogue soldier, rather than a man in a disguise. “The suicide bomber was dressed in a military uniform. He had a belt of explosives underneath,” said a man who identified himself as Colonel Amin al-Alghabati, his hands and uniform flecked with blood.
‘Hallmark of al-Qaeda’
The suicide attack was the deadliest in the country’s capital since newly-elected President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi pledged to oust al-Qaeda militants from Yemen’s mostly lawless and restive southern and eastern provinces. Hadi, who was elected in a single-candidate vote - as stipulated by the Gulf-sponsored transition deal that forced Saleh’s ouster - is expected to give a speech at a military ceremony scheduled for today.
A man claiming to speak for militant group Ansar al-Sharia said in a telephone call to Reuters that it was behind the attack. An Ansar al-Sharia spokesman subsequently confirmed the claim, saying it was in response to the “crimes” of the security forces who are fighting to dislodge militants from their strongholds in the south of the country. Yemeni police officer Colonel Abdul Hamid Bajjash, in charge of security at the blast area, said the attack “bears the hallmark of al-Qaeda.”
In a separate incident yesterday, al-Qaeda militants attacked a Yemeni military base in Wadi Hassan, east of Zinjibar, killing seven soldiers and wounding 23 others, military officials and medics said, adding that fierce fighting also erupted northeast of the city. Since the offensive began, 234 people have been killed, according to a tally compiled by AFP, including 158 Al-Qaeda fighters, 41 military personnel, 18 local militiamen and 17 civilians.