Suicide blasts kill nearly 70 amid volatility in Yemen

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Two suicide bombers have struck in Yemen – one targeting a gathering of Shia rebels in the country’s capital and the other hitting a military outpost in the south – in attacks that killed nearly 70 people.

The bombings underscored Yemen’s highly volatile situation following last month’s takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by the Shia Houthi rebels whose blitz stunned the impoverished Arab nation on the southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. The Houthis’ push into Sanaa also prompted threats of retaliation from their Sunni militant foes in al-Qaida’s Yemen branch.

At least 47 people died and 75 were wounded when a suicide attacker set off his explosives in central Sanaa, the health ministry said.

The attacker targeted a gathering of Houthis and their supporters, mingling among the protesters as they were getting ready for the rally in landmark Tahrir Street before he detonated his explosives, according to security and health officials.

The second bombing took place on the outskirts of the southern port city of Mukalla in Hadarmout province when a suicide car bomber rammed his car against a security outpost, killing at least 20 soldiers and wounding 15, the officials said. Hadarmout is one of several strongholds of al-Qaida’s Yemeni branch, considered by Washington to be the most dangerous offshoot of the terror network.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack, but both bore the hallmarks of 
al-Qaida, which has for years staged suicide bombings against army troops, security personnel and government facilities.

In Sanaa, the dead and wounded were taken to three hospitals. There were at least six children in critical condition and some of the wounded arrived in hospital badly burnt, missing an eye or a limb.

At the scene of the blast in Tahrir Street, one of Sanaa’s busiest, blood lay on the ground as volunteers picked up body parts from the pavement. Sandals and other personal belongings of the victims were scattered about.