Thursday, October 9, 2014
Suicide bomber kills at least 43 Houthi supporters in Yemeni capital Sanaa
A powerful bomb in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday killed at least 43 people in an attack on supporters of Shiite Houthi insurgents who have overrun the city. Witnesses said a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt at a checkpoint at the entrance to the protest site, leaving steel balls strewn at the scene. Medics said dozens were also wounded in the blast. It was the largest bomb attack in the capital since a May 2012 Qaeda attack on an army parade killed around 100 people.
The explosion struck Sanaa's Al-Tahrir square as supporters of the Houthis were preparing to stage a protest, rebel sources said. Supporters of the Houthis gathered after the explosion chanting slogans demanding the fall of President Abed Rabuh Mansur Hadi. The president infuriated the rebels earlier this week by naming his chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, as prime minister following a UN-brokered peace deal under which the insurgents would withdraw from Sanaa.
Bin Mubarak late Wednesday declined to take the post, saying he wanted to "preserve the national unity and protect the country from divisions."
Since storming into Sanaa, the rebels have been tightening their grip on the city while also looking to expand their control eastwards to oilfields and to the strategic southwestern strait of Bab el-Mandab. The Huthis, who complain of marginalisation by the authorities in Sanaa, are concentrated in the northern highlands where Zaidi Shiites are a majority in otherwise Sunni-majority Yemen.
In addition to the Huthis swooping south from their Saada stronghold, the authorities have also had to deal with southern secessionist aspirations and a bloody campaign by Yemen's Al-Qaeda franchise. In Hadramawt province of southeast Yemen, a military official said 20 soldiers were killed in a suicide car bombing at an army post on the western outskirts of the city of Mukalla. A tank and two army vehicles were destroyed in the blast, the official said. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been linked to a number of failed terror plots against the United States.