Sanaa, Oct 10:
An Al Qaeda suicide bomber struck a Shia Houthi rally in the Yemen capital Thursday, killing at least 47 people, the government said, hours after the new prime minister quit amid threats of mass protests.
The bombing ripped through Houthi supporters who were gathering at Tahrir Square in downtown Sanaa to prepare for a protest against Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, who announced his resignation as Houthi leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, called for a mass protest against his appointment.
Witnesses said a suicide bomber detonated a bag of explosives at the entrance of Tahrir Square, injuring at least 57 others, according to Xinhua.
The Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack and vowed to carry out more.
“Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula carried out its promise, and today we have seen body parts of the Shia rebels strewn in Tahrir Square,” the militants said in a brief online statement. Yet they did not release any details, but warned people to keep away from Houthi gatherings.
The AQAP also claimed responsibility for two other suicide attacks the same day against the army in the southeastern province of Hadramout, saying 30 soldiers in an attack on an army camp in the coastal city of Mukalla, and 20 soldiers in a car bombing against an outpost in the Abar desert area near the Saudi Arabian border.
Houthi spokesman Ali al-Emad meanwhile said that such terrorist attacks would not deter the group from continuing its revolt.
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi condemned the terrorist attack against the Houthi protesters in a statement carried by the official Saba news agency and has ordered an investigation.
Despite the attack, Houthi supporters held the protest rally at Tahrir square but not in large numbers and vowed to continue their struggle as they denounced “foreign guardianship in appointing the new prime minister”.
Bin Mubarak turned down his nomination late Wednesday, following strong opposition by the Houthi rebels who overran the capital Sep 21.
Saba said that President Hadi Thursday accepted bin Mubarak’s decision and resumed consultations for a new prime minister.
On Sep 21, the government and the Houthi group signed a ceasefire deal in Sanaa, agreeing to stop fighting in the capital, nominate a prime minister within a week and form a technocrat government within a month.
The Houthis, however, refused to hand over seized towns and cities and have taken over almost all state institutions in Sanaa since then.
The peace agreement ended to the deadly clashes between the rebels and the army supported by Sunni militia, which had left about 400 people, including about 50 civilians, dead.
After overrunning Sanaa, the Houthi group has started to deploy fighters in the country’s southern regions, where the AQAP is active. It clashed with the AQAP several times in the central province of Marib and the southeastern province of Hadramout late September, which left dozens dead from both sides.