A militant attack in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, resulted in 52 deaths on Thursday. At least seven victims were foreign nationals. The attack included two-stages, first a suicide car bomb and then a firefight with armed militants. Credit for the terror strike was claimed by the Yemen branch of al Qaeda, known as al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. The assault also left more than 160 people injured, at least nine seriously.
The terror attack came during a visit to Washington from Yemen’s defense minister. US military officials have put troops in the region on alert, according to New York Times. They say US forces are ready to help their Yemeni ally if needed.
Thursday’s militant assault targeted the Defense Ministry complex in the Yemen capital. Witnesses recall gunmen storming the complex’s hospital after a major car bomb explosion killed and injured dozens. Soldiers wounded in the attack told officials that the militants appeared to be targeting foreigners in the hospital. According to Yahoo! News, the gunmen were said to have separated the foreigners before shooting them in the chest and head, execution-style.
The foreign victims included two German aid workers, two Vietnamese doctors, and three nurses from India and the Philippines. In the aftermath of the attack, conflicting casualty reports include one that counts at least ten foreigners killed. It is unclear which tally is correct at this time.
At least 11 militants died during the daring attack in Yemen’s capital. Security forces were quick to respond to the assault, leading sweeps in Sana’a to uncover al Qaeda conspirators. Several clashes followed, leaving another five militants and one security officer dead, reports Yahoo! News.
On Friday the al Qaeda branch in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks. They cited the recent rise in US drone strikes in the area as provoking an attack. The militants say that because the Defense Ministry houses US drone control rooms, it has joined the list of “legitimate targets.”
Some regional experts worry that the Yemen attack led by al Qaeda forces in Sana’a prove the extreme vulnerability of local government forces, as the Defense Ministry complex should have been a high-security area.
[Featured image via Twitter / Baraa Shiban]