— A Yemeni soldier with explosives strapped under his uniform killed 96 troops at a military parade rehearsal here Monday, an attack which will alarm Washington as its involvement in the front-line state deepens.
Condemning the carnage, King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, said the perpetrators of the attack don’t represent Islam and its values. “They are the enemies of all humanity,” the King said in his condolence message to Yemeni President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi.
“Our religion, our ethics and our values would never accept such crimes. It is the sedition being ignited by enemies of our Arab and Islamic nation (Ummah), thinking that this may discourage the honest people of our nation from pursuing stability and security,” the message said. Such criminal acts, it added, will only increase “our determination to deal with the enemies of religion.”
An Al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen said it had carried out the attack, its most serious yet, to target the defense minister and army commanders. It said it would strike again if a US-backed military campaign against militants in the south did not stop.
President Hadi, whose predecessor was toppled in an uprising, said security forces would become “tougher and more determined in pursuing terrorist elements.”
Yemen’s defense minister and chief of staff were both at the rehearsal for Tuesday’s National Day parade — meant to celebrate Yemeni unity — but neither was hurt.
The explosion in Sanaa’s Sabaeen Square left scenes of carnage, with bloodied victims and body parts strewn across the 10-lane road where the rehearsal was held Monday morning, not far from the presidential palace.
“We had just finished the parade. We were saluting our commander when a huge explosion went off,” said soldier Amr Habib. “It was a gruesome attack. Many soldiers were killed and others had their arms and legs blown off.”
One investigator said preliminary findings suggested the suicide bomber was a rogue soldier rather than a man in disguise. — Agencies