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SANAA SUICIDE BOMBING KILLED 96 YEMENI TROOPS

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According to medical sources at least 96 soldiers had been killed and 300 wounded in a suicide bomb attack during a rehearsal for a military parade in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, on Monday 05/21/2012, officials said (see also – Sanaa 04.26.10 ).

The assailant, who was reportedly wearing army uniform, blew himself up among a group of soldiers at al-Sabin Square, near the presidential palace where large military parades are often held. It was the deadliest attack in the capital since President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi took power in February 2012 (see – Mukalla 02.25.12 ).

Witnesses said remains of the victims were scattered across the square, Ambulances rushed to the area to take the dozens of wounded to hospital.

“The suicide bomber was dressed in a military uniform. He had a belt of explosives underneath,” Col Amin al-Alghabati told the Reuters news agency. It is not yet clear if the attacker had been taking part in the drill or had walked up to the soldiers shortly before detonating his bomb. Defence Minister Nasser Ahmed and the army chief-of-staff were reportedly in the square at the time, but were not hurt.They had been practising for a parade for National Unity Day on Tuesday, which marks the anniversary of the 1990 unification of the Marxist People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen – also known as South Yemen – and the Yemen Arab Republic – known as North Yemen in a blooduy war fought between the South and the North.

Monday’s attack comes 10 days after the military launched an offensive against Islamist militants linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – AQAP in the southern province of Abyan. Over the weekend, at least 33 militants and 19 soldiers were reportedly killed in clashes near the town of Jaar, in Abyan, which has been under control of Ansar al-Sharia – an offshoot of AQAP – since last year.

A day earlier, on Sunday, a US Coast Guard instructor was shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen as he drove through the eastern Red Sea port of Hodeida (see also – Taiz 03.18..12). Ansar al-Sharia later said it had been behind the attack. Ansar al-Sharia, or Partisans of Islamic law, was founded in response to the growing youth movement in Yemen, which has marginalised Salafi jihadists who advocate the violent overthrow of the government.

 

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