Video of the aftermath of the suicide attack in Sana’a, Yemen, on May 21, 2012.
An al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula suicide bomber killed more than 90 Yemeni troops as they practiced for a parade in the capital of Sana’a today.
The suicide bomber was dressed as a soldier and detonated his explosives-packed vest in the middle of a formation of troops from the Central Security Organization, a paramilitary branch of the Ministry of the Interior, according to the BBC. The troops were drilling for tomorrow’s National Unity Day parade at a location near the Presidential Palace. Yemen’s defense minister and the military chief of staff were planning on greeting the troops at today’s rehearsal.
Ninety-six Yemeni troops, many from the Central Security Organization, were killed and at least 300 more were wounded in the deadly blast, AFP has reported. The death toll is expected to rise.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed credit for today’s suicide attack in Sana’a, according to a statement released by the Madad News Agency, an AQAP propaganda arm.
“The primary target of this blessed operation was the Defense Minister of the Sana’a
regime and his corrupt entourage, and that it came in response to the unjust war launched by the Sana’a regime’s forces in cooperation with the American and Saudi forces,” the statement said, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Today’s suicide attack takes place as the Yemeni military is on the offensive in Abyan province, where AQAP and its political front, Ansar al Sharia, control several cities and towns, including Zinjibar, the provincial capital, and Jaar. Hundreds of AQAP fighters, Yemeni soldiers, and civilians have been reported killed during fighting over the past 10 days.
The US has backed the Yemeni military with airstrikes as well as military advisers. The US has conducted eight drone strikes against AQAP fighters in Yemen this month, and six strikes each of the previous two months. Several senior AQAP operatives, including Fahd al Quso, have been killed in the airstrikes.
AQAP has been targeting the Yemeni military in attacks on bases in the south. In the biggest assault, on March 4, hundreds of AQAP fighters overran a base in Al Koud, killing 185 soldiers, wounding more than 200, and capturing 73 more.