Al-Qaida Claims Responsibility For Yemen Suicide Bombing
A rehearsal for a parade in the Yemen capital of Sana'a on Monday became the setting of a massacre as an Al-Qaida suicide bomber, disguised as a soldier, set off a detonation that killed 96 and wounded more than 200.
According to The Guardian, the bombing was one of the worst attacks the city had witnessed:
"[It was] the bloodiest incident in the city in years and dealt a serious blow to a political transition under way after a year of violent political upheaval that unseated Yemen's dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, after 33 years in office."
ABC News reported that the Yemen-based Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) admitted to the attack:
- "Even if the defence minister and his aides escaped this operation, we will not tire," it said in a statement posted online.
- "We are in a war to defend our blood which is violated in Abyan, and war only breeds war.
- "The flames of war will reach you wherever you are and what happened is only the beginning of the road in jihad."
According to Voice of America, the attack was directed toward Yemen leaders, particularly the Minister of Defense, Maj. Gen. Mahammed Nasser Ahmed:
- "Al-Qaida's Yemen-based affiliate said the attack was aimed at top Yemeni commanders. It came during a U.S.-backed Yemeni government offensive against militants who seized southern regions last year, as the country was engulfed in an uprising against then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh."
The Associated Press also said Minister of Defense Ahmed had arrived just minutes before the explosives were detonated. Al-Qaida also threatened to continue attacking Yemen leaders out of revenge for allowing the U.S. to train Yemen militants in overthrowing Ansar al-Sharia, an Al-Qaida group that overtook towns and villages in the southern province of Abyan during Yemen's unrest.
Yemen's new president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, fired two senior commanders after the attacks who had been loyal to the previous dictator, said The Guardian. One of the commanders was the head of national security and the dictator's nephew.
- "Our armed forces and security forces will become tougher and more determined in stamping out terrorists," the state news agency, Saba, quoted Hadi as telling the victims' families in a condolence message.
The U.S. has increased its military presence in Yemen, concerned that Al-Qaida is using southern Yemen as a "dangerous base of operations," according to The Guardian. Two Americans who were training Yemen's coastguard were also killed by Al-Qaida gunfire while driving through the Red Sea city of Hudaida on Sunday.
Yemen's interior minister said the parade they had been rehearsing for— in celebration of 22 years of unification between the north and south of Yemen— would proceed on Tuesday, as scheduled.
The last Yemen pedestrian suicide bombing happened in 2010 in an attempted attack against British ambassador, Tim Torlot.