Yemen suicide bomber kills 33 at Shiite celebration

The attack in the city of Ibb also left dozens of people wounded, with the death toll likely to rise.

SANAA // A suicide bomber dressed as a woman killed 33 people at a celebration by Shiite militia supporters in central Yemen on Wednesday .

The attack in the city of Ibb also left dozens of people wounded, and the death toll is likely to rise, medics said.

The mainly Sunni city is under the control of Shiite Houthi militants.

Among those wounded in Wednesday’s attack was Ibb governor Yahya Al Aryani, who was attending the Houthis’ commemoration of the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday.

A security source said the bomber had been wearing a black abaya and veil when he detonated his suicide belt.

Another bomb was discovered at the entrance to the event’s venue, the source added.

Yemen has been dogged by instability since an Arab Spring-inspired uprising forced longtime strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in 2012, with the Houthi rebels and Al Qaeda seeking to fill the power vacuum.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap), the Yemen branch of the terrorist organisation, has pledged to fight the Houthis, who overran the capital Sanaa unopposed in September and have since advanced into other, mainly Sunni districts, including Ibb.

Aqap’s military chief, Qassem Al Rimi, vowed in November to carry out fierce attacks against the Shiite militants, and several deadly bombings targeting Houthis have been claimed by the group.

Al Qaeda has also carried out a spate of attacks against the security forces from its strongholds in the south and east in recent weeks.

In the southern province of Shabwa on Wednesday, gunmen killed a police colonel near the provincial capital Ataq before fleeing, a police source said.

There was no immediate claim for the shooting but last weekend Aqap claimed an attempt to assassinate a top general in an ambush that killed two soldiers and wounded 11.

In a second incident, Aqap said its gunmen opened fire on an army colonel in central Baida city.

On Tuesday, gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed an army officer in the southern port city of Aden.

Aqap is considered by the United States to be the most dangerous branch of Al Qaeda and its attacks on security forces have challenged Yemen’s longtime role as an effective ally in Washington’s fight against extremists.

Yemen’s proximity to Saudi Arabia and key shipping routes in the Gulf of Aden have heightened concerns that it could become a failed state similar to Somalia.

The US slapped sanctions on former president Saleh in November for allegedly supporting the Houthi advance.

It also blacklisted two Shiite rebel commanders, Abdullah Yahya Al Hakim and Abd Al Khaliq Al Houthi, “for engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen”.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: December 31, 2014 04:00 AM

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