At least 20 people were killed on Thursday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden belt in a district of Yemeni capital where supporters of Shi’ite Muslim Houthi movement were to have held a rally, witnesses said.
Witnesses said they counted at least 20 bodies after the attack on a checkpoint held by the Houthis, the country’s main power brokers since their paramilitary forces seized the capital on 21 September following weeks of anti-government demonstrations.
The attack occurred just hours after a political showdown between the Houthis and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour led to the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, whose appointment on Tuesday had angered Houthi leaders.
Many people were wounded in the bombing in central Tahrir Square, other witnesses said. The Houthis’ al-Masirah television station put the death toll at 32.
A policeman guarding a local bank near the scene said a man apparently wearing a suicide belt approached the Houthi checkpoint. “He then exploded amidst the (Houthi) security and ordinary people nearby,” the policemen added.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the incident appears to mirror previous bombings carried out by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, which see members of the minority Zaydi sect of Shi’ite Islam as heretics.
Western and Gulf Arab countries are worried that instability in Yemen could strengthen al Qaeda and have supported a U.N.-backed political transition since 2012 led by Hadi meant to shepherd the country to stability after decades of autocracy.