142 killed in bomb attacks on two mosques in Yemen

142 killed in bomb attacks on two mosques in Yemen

SANAA - Agence France-Presse
142 killed in bomb attacks on two mosques in Yemen

An injured girl reacts as she is carried by a man out of a mosque which was attacked by a suicide bomber in Sanaa March 20, 2015. REUTERS Photo

Triple suicide bombings killed 142 people and wounded more than 350 others March 20 at mosques in the Yemeni capital attended by Shiite Huthi militiamen who have seized the city, medics said.

One suicide bomber struck inside Badr mosque in southern Sanaa while another targeted worshippers as they fled outside, witnesses told AFP. The third suicide bomber targeted Al-Hashahush mosque in northern Sanaa.

Deat toll was at 142 and 350 others were wounded, medical sources said.

The Huthi militia’s Al-Massira television said hospitals in the capital had made urgent appeals for blood donations.

Leading Huthi cleric Al-Murtada bin Zayd al-Muhatwari, the imam of the Badr mosque, was among those killed, a medical source said.

Footage aired by Al-Massira showed bodies lying in pools of blood outside the mosques, as worshippers rushed the wounded to hospitals in pick-up trucks.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Another suicide bomber blew himself up outside a mosque in the northern Huthi stronghold of Saada, a source close to the militia said.

Only the assailant was killed in that explosion and tight security at the mosque prevented the bomber from going inside, the source added.

The Huthis overran Sanaa in September and have since tightened their grip on power.

Their attempts to extend their control into other areas have been met by deadly resistance from Sunni tribes and Al-Qaeda.

Yemen’s top security body blamed al-Qaeda for a car bomb in January that killed 40 people and wounded dozens more at a police academy in Sanaa as recruits lined up to register. But a leader of the jihadist network denied responsibility at the time.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is regarded by the United States as the extremist network’s deadliest branch.

Yemen, a front line in the U.S. war on al-Qaeda, has descended into chaos since the 2012 ouster of longtime strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been accused of backing the Huthis.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi escaped Huthi house arrest in Sanaa last month and fled to the southern city of Aden, where violence has erupted in recent days.

A security official told AFP on March 20 that a top Yemeni officer linked to the Huthis had escaped an assassination bid near Aden overnight.

Four people were killed in an ambush on the Lahj-Taiz road but General Abdel Hafedh al-Sakkaf, the special forces chief in Aden, escaped unharmed, said the official from Lahj.

He said the attack took place in Al-Athawir as Sakkaf fled Aden in a convoy to Lahj, on its way towards militia-held Sanaa.

“He escaped the assassination bid but a bodyguard was shot dead, while three others died when their vehicle overturned,” the official said.