Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Suicide bomber attacks parade rehearsal in Yemen: more that 120 dead, 350 wounded
An attack by a suicide bomber on Yemeni troops rehearsing in the capital Sana'a for a parade has made more than 100 victims on Monday. The newspaper the Yemen Post reported that the death toll rose to more than 120 soldiers, mostly from the central security forces. About 350 others were injured, many in critical condition, hospital sources said. A medic of those who treated some injuries said some soldiers arrived at the new police typical hospital in very critical condition.
There are conflicting reports as to how the attack occurred. Some said a soldier with an explosive belt blew himself up amidst one of the battalions participating in the parade. Others said the bomber came from outside the forces. Investigations are underway.
Yemen's Defense Minister Mohammad Nasser Ahmed and Chief of General Staff Ahmed Ali Al-Shawal were present, but the escaped the incident, military sources said.
The authorities said the attack on the national forces, who were conducting a parade rehearsal a day before the anniversary of the unification of the two Yemens, bore the hallmarks of Al-Qaida.The army has recently stepped up the war on militants in southern and southeastern regions, mainly Abyan where key towns were seized last year. Hundreds of militants have been killed and injured including senior leaders.
But observers doubted whether an Al-Qaida bomber could infiltrate into the parade square, which is heavily guarded by the republican guard and the central security forces, without help from commanders and forces. Citizens said the remnants of the former regime including military commanders might be involved in this massacre, which comes amid security disorders including the spread of guns and tribesmen roaming main cities.
President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi ordered to fire some of the commanders after the incident. The Central Security Forces’ leader, Abdulmalik Al-Tayb, (who was appointed under Saleh) was replaced. . Hadi also removed Saleh’s nephew Amar Mohamed Abdullah Saleh from his post as Deputy Chief of the National Security Organization. Another of Saleh's nephews, Yahia Mohamed Abdulla Saleh, Chief Staff Officer of the CSF, has not been removed, however, according to a source at the Central Security Forces.
Additional changes of command were made with Mohamed Abdullah Al-Qawsi, chief of the Patrol Police, and one of Saleh’s aides who was also replaced.
Reponsiblity for the attack was claimed by the Ansar Al-Sharia, an Al Qaeda affiliate group based in Abyan and Shabwa.The Ministry of Interior warned last week that armed militants of Al-Qaeda have entered the capital Sana’a and are expected to carry out sabotage and terrorism operations. One militant was captured after intelligence reports revealed what car he was driving. However the Ministry warned that there are still terrorists at large and called for tighter security measures to help combat the threat.