Sana'a: A suicide bomber with explosives strapped under his uniform killed more than 90 soldiers and wounded over 200 people at a military parade rehearsal in the Yemeni capital on Monday.
Al Qaida's wing in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was targeted at the defence minister and army commanders. It threatened further attacks in Sana'a if the military campaign against militants in southern Yemen did not stop.
The explosion in Sana'a's Sabaeen Square left behind scenes of carnage, with bloodied survivors walking around dazed amid body parts strewn across the 10-lane road. The parade rehearsal was held early yesterday, not far from the presidential palace.
The wounded were ferried to hospital in taxis.
"Most of the injuries are to the head; we have dozens paralysed. We expect the death toll to rise. Most of the injured here are boys in their teens. Sana'a's hospitals are overwhelmed," Mohsen Al Dhahari, a doctor, said.
Sources said the suicide bomber dressed in military fatigues managed to sneak past security and mingle with the hundreds of soldiers rehearsing for the parade. The usual security procedure for such an event would involve checks being made on the soldiers at their bases before they are transported to the site of the parade in army vehicles. The rehearsal was held ahead of today's planned celebration of the 22nd anniversary of Yemeni unification.
Huria Mashhour, Minister for Human Rights, called for a transparent investigation into the deaths of the soldiers. "We want a transparent investigation to identify those people who orchestrated this horrific crime against these innocent soldiers," Huria said.
Shortly after the tragedy, Yemen's President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi fired many security and intelligence officers, according to reports. Weakened by an uprising that eventually toppled Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's government has lost control over large swathes of the country, allowing militants to overrun several towns in the southern province of Abyan.
The attack, along with an ambush on Sunday on a US military training team, indicated their campaign could be entering a dangerous new stage.