Bombing in Yemen kills more than 30December 31, 2014 in Terrorism, Yemen
31 December – A suicide bomber killed over 30 people when he detonated himself at a cultural centre where students were celebrating the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday. At least 48 people were also injured, including many women and children and women. Medics and residents put Wednesday’s death toll at 33, saying that 20 bodies were transferred to al-Thawra hospital and 13 others were taken to another hospital. A local resident says that the death toll is likely to rise. The director general of the Ibb governorate where the blast occurred was among the dead. The governor, who was reported to have been wounded, has escaped unharmed. A second explosion was later reported outside al-Thawra Hospital. Authorities later said that security forces had been firing in the air to disperse residents who had gathered in front of the hospital.
No one claimed responsibility for attack, but it is similar in fashion to those conducted by terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has a heavy presence in Yemen. AQAP regards Shi’ites, the sect of Islam to which the Houthis belong, as heretics. The celebration, in the city of Ibb, was organized by the Houthis, the group that controls most of Yemen.
In a message of condolences to the victims’ families, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi condemned “the terrorist and criminal” attack and instructed the government to ensure the wounded receive full medical attention.
Yesterday, unidentified gunmen killed army officer in south Yemen Tuesday, in the latest attack on military personnel. Captain Shaeq Mohammed Shaeq was shot with an assault rifle by gunmen on a motorcycle in Aden’s al-Qahera neighbourhood. Again, there has been no claim of responsibility for the attack; however it is consistent with a series of AQAP attacks on military personnel in recent weeks.
On Monday, two soldiers were killed and 11 wounded in a failed attempt to assassinate the commander of the First Military Region, General Abdul Rahman al-Hulaili, in southeastern Hadramawt province. AQAP claimed the attack, in which assailants detonated explosives planted on the roadside and opened fire as the general’s convoy passed.
In a separate attack on Monday in central Baida city, two gunmen on a motorbike shot dead intelligence officer Nasser al-Wahishi. On Sunday, a similar bombing targeted the commander of the 31st Armored Battalion, General Farej al-Atiqi, in the southern city of Aden. Atiqi escaped the bomb blast unscathed, but his driver was killed and two other bodyguards were wounded. A device that had been hidden in his car was detonated by remote control, army officials said.
Tensions have increased in Yemen since the Houthis captured the capital, Sana’a, in September. They have since expanded south and west of the capital. Yemen has been battling al Qaeda strongholds in the region while trying to cope with the Houthi advances. Further, the nation must protect its borders with the world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, and protect access to key shipping routes from the Suez Canal to the Gulf. Concerns have arisen that the nation could become a failed state as it struggles to recover following the ousting of veteran autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh in February 2012.
During the unrest, the military split between forces loyal to President Saleh and those backing General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, an Islamist-leaning general who had backed the uprising and went on to become a military adviser to current president Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Corruption, internal splits and competing loyalties in the army began before Saleh’s removal, and are now reaching a critical stage. The rift has weakened the army and contributed to the ease of Houthi acceleration in their mission to “drive out corruption”, and rise of AQAP militants. The current government must also contend with southern separatists who have been calling for a weekly civil disobedience day every Monday to demand independence.