Yemen rebels say US plotted bomb attack, offer no proof

Al Houthi rebels in Yemen say a bomb attack that targeted a government complex where their leaders were meeting is planned by the US, but they offer no evidence.

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SANAA // Rebel forces yesterday accused US intelligence agencies of plotting the car-bomb attack that killed two people and injured one in Al Matamma, north-east of Sanaa, on Sunday.

Al Houthi rebels said in a statement that the blast targeted a government complex in which their leaders were meeting.

"This is clearly a US intelligence-style criminal act," the rebels said, while offering no evidence supporting their claim.

The blast came two days after the Al Houthi rebels and the Islamist Islah party agreed to a truce to end the fighting that had flared intermittently since March when Al Jawf province, in which Al Matamma is located, fell to the anti-government tribes.

The Al Houthis said the attack was intended to "provoke sectarian divisions between Yemenis", adding that the attack was aimed to "help maintain the unjust regime" of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been facing six months of protests calling for him to relinquish power.

Mr Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 33 years, is in Saudi Arabia recovering from wounds suffered in a bomb blast on the mosque at his presidential compound in June.

In remarks published yesterday, a prominent member of Mr Saleh's ruling party accused Hamid Al Ahmar, a leading figure in the Ahmar tribe, of being behind the assassination attempt.

Mr Al Ahmar is the brother of Sadeq Al Ahmar whose forces engaged in heavy fighting with Mr Saleh's loyalists in the weeks before he was injured.

"There is no longer room for doubt that Hamid Al Ahmar is the prime suspect in the sinful assassination attempt to which the president of the republic and a number of officials were subjected," Sultan Al Barakani told the Saudi-owned daily Asharq Al-Awsat. "The results of the investigation indicate that the Sim cards used in the operation all belonged to the company Sabafon, which is owned by Hamid Al Ahmar," added Mr Barakani, the head of the General People's Congress parliamentary bloc. Over the weekend, in the south, renewed fighting erupted in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.

A government spokesman said 17 militants and three Yemeni soldiers were killed.

The militants had overtaken towns in Abyan shortly after Mr Saleh went to Saudi Arabia.

Government forces have been trying to dislodge the Islamic militants in the south, but they have only made modest headway after weeks of sporadic fighting and air strikes.

* With additional reporting by the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse