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News, May 2012
96 Yemeni Security Officers Killed in a Suicide Bombing Attack in Sana'a
May 21, 2012
Suicide bomber kills 96 Yemen soldiers in Sana'a
Khaleej Times, (AFP) / 21 May, 2012
Policemen gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack at a parade square in Sana'a. Reuters 1/1 A Yemeni soldier packing powerful explosives under his uniform blew himself up in the middle of an army battalion in Sana'a on Monday, killing 96 troops and wounding around 300, a military official and medics said.
Medics, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the casualties were being treated in seven hospitals across Sana'a. All the dead and injured were soldiers, they added.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the massive blast which according to witnesses echoed loudly across the city, causing panic among residents.
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.
Witnesses said human remains were scattered across the site of the blast at Sana'a’s Sabeen Square, where the Yemeni government often holds large military parades.
It remains unclear if the parade will take place as planned.
Suicide bombers attack Yemeni security soldiers, at least 80 killed
SANAA, May 21, 2012 (Xinhua) --
Several suicide bombers blew themselves up among security soldiers who were practicing for a military parade in Yemen's capital of Sanaa on Monday, killing at least 80 people, police officials said.
Police officials told Xinhua that at least 80 soldiers were killed after a number of suicide bombers targeted the soldiers in al-Sabeen square, a few meters northwest of the presidential palace.
The parade was scheduled for Tuesday to mark Yemen's 22nd anniversary of reunification.
Officials said suicide bombers wearing security uniforms blew themselves up among the soldiers when they marched through al- Sabeen square, and the attack bore the hallmark of the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a resurgent terrorist off-shoot in Yemen.
"The attack took place when soldiers were marching in front of al-Sabeen stage, a few meters away from the presidential palace and the headquarters of the central security forces. President Abd- Rabbu Mansour Hadi is scheduled to deliver a speech to the nation on Tuesday on the occasion of Yemen's 22th anniversary of reunification," a police official told Xinhua.
The explosion occurred when Yemen's defense minister and chief of staff of the army arrived at the square. However, they survived the suicide bombing.
The targeted battalion consists of 900 soldiers. More than 100 soldiers were wounded.
The injured have been taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, according to the police.
Witnesses said human remains were scattered across the explosion site and policemen have cordoned off the scene.
According to sources from the defense ministry, the ministry received intelligence last week that unidentified militants were planning to carry out suicide car bombing attack in Sanaa.
"I was expecting bad surprise during nowadays, particularly on Tuesday as there were enemies for the nation seeking to interrupt the political transitional process," said Adel Ahmed, an activist in the one-year protest movement and also a soldier in the central security forces.
According to witnesses at the scene, the death toll has risen to 80, as the number is still climbing.
"I do not feel any desire to get back to work after this horrible attack," a security soldier said, requesting anonymity.
Yemeni officials blamed Monday's attack on al-Qaida. They said at least one suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of the parade. Police said they captured another two suspect suicide bombers in the parade square.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida later claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing attack. Sources close to the group said that "the attack came in response to the U.S.-backed all-out offensive against ai-Qaida in the southern province of Abyan."
Monday's attack comes 10 days into a massive army offensive against al-Qaida 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 2011.
With the support of U.S. experts and drones, the Yemeni government has launched an "all-out offensive" against al-Qaida militants for 10 days in the southern province of Abyan. The ongoing fighting has left more than 200 people from both sides killed, while thousands of civilians have fled to neighboring provinces of Aden and Lahj.
Northern and southern Yemen unified in 1990. However, the deal fell apart, leading to a crisis between the two allies, which developed into a civil war in 1994.
Hadi has pledged to launch a national dialogue to address the grievances of the southerners, protesters and northern rebels and to involve them in the political process.
In April, Hadi made a major shakeup in military, in which he sacked several of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's relatives and loyalists. In this move he sought to pave the way for a reconciliation dialogue with all Yemeni parties during his two- year transitional term, which was part of the power transfer deal.
Dozens killed in suicide attack on Yemen army
France 24, May 17, 2012, By FRANCE 24 (with wires) (text)
A uniformed man blew himself up in the midst of a military parade rehearsal attended by senior officials in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Monday, killing at least 63 people and wounding more than 60, a police source said.
Yemen's defence minister chief of staff were present at the event but were not hurt in the blast, a military source said.
The attack coincided with a U.S.-backed Yemeni army offensive against al Qaeda-linked militants in the south of the country, where they control several towns. Troops closed in on one of their strongholds on Sunday in heavy fighting.
Militants have exploited political instability in Yemen to gain a foothold in a country paralysed for most of 2011 by protests that eventually unseated President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Yemen is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and is viewed by the United States as a major threat, not only to regional security but its own. A U.S. military instructor was wounded in an ambush on a U.S. training team on Sunday.
Blood and body parts were scattered across the 10-lane road where the rehearsal was being held on Monday morning. The area was cordoned off with yellow tape and a forensic team was examining the site.
"We were in a parade, suddenly there was a huge explosion. Dozens of our men were killed. We tried to help them," said a man who identified himself as Colonel Amin al-Alghabati, his hands and uniform flecked with blood.
"The suicide bomber was dressed in a military uniform. He had a belt of explosives underneath," he said.
A Reuters witness said the wounded were being ferried to hospital in taxis. The impoverished state has seen a spate of deadly attacks since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi replaced Saleh in February saying he would extinguish an Islamist insurgency, which until now has been concentrated in the south.
The Yemeni army earlier this month launched an offensive in the southern province of Abyan to regain control of territory and towns seized by militants calling themselves Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law).
The parade was scheduled for Tuesday to mark Yemen's national day, which commemorates the unification of north and south Yemen, previously separate states, and Hadi was due to attend.
"Yemenis must stand together in the face of this deadly terrorist threat," said Brigadier Karim Nahil. "We will celebrate our unity tomorrow with the blood of our martyrs on our hands and faces."
Presumed US drone attack kills suspected militants
France 24, May 17, 2012, By News Wires (text)
Two apparent U.S. drone attacks killed at least 10 suspected al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen on Saturday, while Yemeni government forces killed 15 others in a new offensive against insurgents, local and military officials said.
U.S. officials said this week they had thwarted a plot by the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to arm a suicide bomber with a non-metallic device, an upgraded version of the “underwear bomb” carried onto an airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
AQAP, a regional branch of the militant network, has plotted overseas attacks that have been prevented but raised major concern for Washington, which is trying to wipe out suspected AQAP operatives with drone and missile strikes.
Two air strikes destroyed three vehicles and killed 10 militants in the eastern oil-producing Maarib province and near the border of the southeastern Shabwa province, the Defence Ministry website said, without elaborating.
Yemen and Washington do not acknowledge U.S. drone attacks.
Local officials told Reuters the strikes were believed to have been carried out by U.S. drones and up to 12 militants were killed, including an Egyptian and two Saudis.
It was the latest in a series of reported drone attacks on militants in the south of the impoverished Arab country who exploited mass protests last year against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize large swathes of territory, including Zinjibar, the capital of restive Abyan province.
Last week, the U.S. Defense Department said Washington had resumed training Yemeni armed forces to bolster the fight against al Qaeda, after a suspension during the political upheaval that ousted Saleh.
In a sign of growing lawlessness after more than a year of unrest, Bulgaria’s ambassador to Yemen escaped with minor injuries on Saturday after masked gunmen opened fire on his car in the capital and tried to kidnap him, a Western diplomat said.
Residents told to leave battle zones
Residents said Yemeni air force planes dropped leaflets on Saturday urging civilians to leave areas held by militants targeted by the army offensive, prompting a mass exodus from parts of Abyan.
Fifteen insurgents as well as five soldiers and an army officer were killed in fighting on Saturday, a military official who did not want to be identified told Reuters.
“A force of about 20,000 men is taking part in this offensive, ordered by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to free the cities of Zinjibar and Jaar,” he said. Navy units would also be used in operations along Abyan’s coast on the Gulf of Aden.
Yemen’s fractured state and dysfunctional security apparatus have provided al Qaeda’s regional wing with a suitable breeding ground for bomb plots on Western targets.
But tribal leaders in parts of Yemen where drone attacks aimed at AQAP have killed civilians say the air strikes are turning more and more people against the government and the United States.
Yemen’s army, which split into two factions during the uprising that eventually unseated Saleh, has been battling to get the upper hand against the militants.
In March, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR warned that Yemen was facing a new wave of internal displacement as tens of thousands of civilians fled tribal clashes in the north and fighting with militants in the south.
Hadi, who had been Saleh’s vice-president, was elected unopposed in February under a U.S.-backed power transition plan brokered by Yemen’s Gulf neighbours to end the political turmoil. Hadi has vowed to defeat al Qaeda and unify the army.
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