By: Abdurrahman Shamlan and Luke Somers
An unidentified suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of soldiers performing rehearsals for a military parade in Sana’a, killing at least 100 soldiers and wounding 150 others, a security officer told the National Yemen. The parade was set to take place on Tuesday to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of Yemen’s reunification
The explosion occurred around 10 o’clock on Monday morning at al-Sabeen square in Sana’a, also near Central Security Forces headquarters.
Most officials present at the site of the blast insisted that the bomber was wearing a Central Security Forces (CSF) uniform. Others added that the bomber had entered the al-Sabeen area from the direction of a nearby amusement park.
Nabil Ali, a warrant officer from the CSF, said, “We were at the SCF headquarters and when we heard the explosion; we rushed onto the scene and we saw a very disturbing scene. We saw the limbs and blood of our friends scattered all over the street.”
“At least one hundred were killed and 150 others were wounded. All the wounded and dead soldiers were from the CSF. The wounded were raced to many hospitals in the capital, some in the Police hospital, some in the Military hospital, with others in Al-Thawra Hospital,” he said.
“I can confirm that the bomber was wearing a military uniform and he was wearing an explosive belt,” Ali added.
Hamoud Ali Abdu-Qasam, another soldier from the Republican Guard who was at the scene when the explosion occured, said, “I was at the stand when the explosion was set off. When we rushed down with our weapons ready to fight we found out that it had been a suicide bomber.”
However, Fadhal al-Rasas, a major from the Republican Guard, claimed that Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer, the commander of the first Armored Division, was behind the attack, and called on President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to take decisive actions against Mohsen.
Most of the officials the National Yemen spoke with thought the incident bore the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda attack and positied that the terror network was trying to seek revenge for hard-hitting strikes the Yemeni army has been delivering against militants in the southern province of Abyan.
For his part, the head of the Ministry of Interior crime scene investigation unit said, “This crime targeted innocent, faultless people who were serving their country. The investigation in underway, and we vow that those responsible for this atrocious attack will be held accountable. It appears that al-Qaeda is behind this operation but we cannot confirm that yet.”
Dr. Ahmed Adrees, a military doctor who was investigating the crime scene, said,” According to the information we have, someone was hiding in al-Sabeen Park and jumped off the fence before exploding himself and killing dozens of innocent soldiers.
So far, no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The timing of the suicide explosion made some think that southern separatists might be behind the attack, as the soldiers had been preparing to celebrate Yemen’s Unity Day.