AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
SANNA: A Yemeni soldier packing powerful explosives under his uniform blew himself up in the middle of an army battalion in Sanaa today, killing 96 troops and wounding around 300, a military official and medics said.
The suicide attack was the deadliest in the country’s capital since newly-elected President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi pledged to oust Al-Qaeda militants from Yemen’s mostly lawless and restive southern and eastern provinces.
Medics said the casualties were being treated in seven hospitals across Sanaa. All the dead and injured were soldiers, they added.
Yemeni police officer Colonel Abdul Hamid Bajjash, in charge of security at the blast area, said the attack “bears the hallmark of Al-Qaeda.”
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 the military official.
Yemen’s defence minister, Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, was present at the time of the explosion but escaped unharmed, the official added.
An AFP correspondent said dozens of ambulances rushed to evacuate the dead and wounded, as security forces cordoned off the area.
Today’s attack is Sanaa’s most deadly since Hadi took power
in February with a pledge to
fight Al-Qaeda’s growing presence in the county.
The suicide bombing comes 10 days into a massive army offensive against Al-Qaeda in Yemen’s restive southern Abyan province, where the jihadists have seized control of a string of towns and cities in attacks launched since May last year.
The offensive followed days after the White House announced that a plot by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to blow up a US airliner had been foiled.
Yemen military and tribal sources said today that 11
Al-Qaeda fighters and three Yemeni soldiers were killed in
the latest fighting around the southern city of Jaar.
The clashes during the night took place mainly at the city’s western entrance, a military source said, adding that 17 soldiers were wounded in the clashes.
In a separate incident today, 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.
Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda militants today claimed they raked with gunfire a convoy carrying four US military advisers in Hudaida, but American officials said they had no such personnel in the west Yemen port city. Al-Qaeda said that jihadists had opened fire yesterday on two cars carrying four American military advisers who were in the Red Sea city on a training mission with the Yemeni Coast Guard.