Photo: EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
This is probably the single most coordinated and brazen terror attack in Yemen since al Qaeda attacked Yemeni troops a few years ago in a military parade - this time, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, went after a Defense building with vehicle bombs and armed attackers....the death toll is 29 but will probably go up.
The story comes from The Telegraph.
Yemen defence ministry hit by deadly car bomb attack
A presumed al-Qaeda terrorist attack has killed at least 29 people including six doctors and other medical staff in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
Following a pattern that has been repeated several times in different parts of the world in recent weeks, a suicide bomber blasted an entrance to the Ministry of Defence compound. It was then stormed by gunmen who had been lying in wait nearby.
Among the buildings damaged in the blast was a hospital on the compound. Gunmen then entered the building and are believed to have shot dead a number of doctors, in front of other staff.
According to one report, one of the doctors was Venezuelan, three were Yemeni and two were from the Philippines, though another said at least one of the latter was a nurse.
Five patients were also killed, including a judge who was receiving treatment in the hospital.
Officials said that 18 soldiers were among the dead, though 12 of the attackers had also been killed in the subsequent fighting.
Yemen is home of one of the most successful al-Qaeda franchises, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), whose leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, doubles as the central command’s chief operations officer.
“Storming” raids have now become a common-place form of attack, suggesting a greater degree of co-ordination between different al-Qaeda groups that was previously thought to be the case.
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq on Wednesday used a shopping mall in the city of Kirkuk as a base for storming a police station nearby, again following an initial suicide bombing.
At least five policemen, two civilians and three of the gunmen were killed in the subsequent battle, which lasted until Thursday morning(today).
In Sanaa, a car packed with explosives blew up on the ministry’s exterior compound wall, the blast strong enough to start fires and blow out doors and windows inside. Gunmen then poured in through the broken gates and seized the hospital, though the authorities claimed to have retaken control shortly afterwards.
“The assailants took advantage of some construction work that is taking place to carry out this criminal act,” a ministry statement said. Reports from the scene said a firefight was continuing.
Earlier this year, the government, under its new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, seemed to have made progress driving AQAP back from some of its strongholds in the south, east of Aden.
Drone strikes co-ordinated with the authorities by the United States have also repeatedly struck AQAP targets.
However, they have remained a strong base of support, often boosted by deaths of civilians in the strikes, and also by sectarian conflicts in parts of the country, and have for several years been able to penetrate sensitive parts of the capital, attacking several targets including British diplomats and kidnapping foreigners.
According to one report in the New York Times, they received $20 million (£12.2 million) from Qatar and Oman as ransom for two sets of kidnapped westerners this year, enough to pay for their operations for several years.
They have also pledged to support Salafi Sunni inhabitants of the northern town of Dammaj who are fighting rebels of the Shia Houthi sect.