(Updated). A car bomber and gunmen dressed in army uniforms attacked Yemen's Defense Ministry compound in the capital Sanaa on Thursday morning, killing at least 20 people in one of the worst attacks in Yemen in 18 months, Reuters reported.
"The attack took place shortly after working hours started at the ministry, when a suicide bomber drove a car into the gate," a Defense Ministry source said. tells Reuters. Then other attackers opened fire, beginning a gun battle that seems to have continued even as ambulances arrived on the scene. The violence also spilled into a hospital in the compound.
Update: According to Yemen's Supreme Security Commission 52 people were killed, including at least seven foreigners, while at least 167 people were wounded, nine of them seriously. Among the dead were two aid workers from Germany, two doctors from Vietnam, two nurses from the Philippines and a nurse from India. Among the Yemeni civilians killed were a doctor and a senior judge. The attack was claimed by al-Qaida's local branch in Yemen and follows a rise in U.S. drone strikes. (En of update)
Islamist insurgents seized several southern cities before being driven out in 2012 in a government offensive aided by U.S. drone strikes. Al Qaeda militants have since killed hundreds of Yemeni soldiers and members of the security forces in a series of attacks, particularly in the southern provinces of the country.
In July last year, a suicide bomber wearing a Yemeni army uniform killed more than 90 people rehearsing for a military parade in Sanaa. Al Qaeda later claimed responsibility for the attack. The defence minister, Major General Muhammad Nasir Ahmad, escaped a car bomb on his motorcade in September 2012 that killed at least 12 other people.