Local News

Explosions rock First Armored Division headquarters

National Yemen

On Hussam al-Tawari's first day working at his auto parts shop in Sana'a, an errant artillery shell from the nearby First Armored Division military compound narrowly missed him as it burst through the shop's glass entrance and through a wall. Photo by Luke Somers

By: Abdurrahman Shamlan

Explosions shook the First Armored Division headquarters in Sana’a late Thursday morning, leaving one soldier dead and five others wounded, according to Defense Ministry representatives.

“During military exercises at the camp, a shell has hit an ammunition store, which set led to many explosions,” a military official at the entrance to the headquarters told the National Yemen. The official requested anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to speak with the media.

“One soldier was killed and five others wounded. Most of the injured soldiers were raced to the hospital only suffered from a shortness of breath,” he said.

Black smoke billowed up from the camp and could be seen from distant parts of Sana’a.

Meanwhile, some media outlets quoted officials as saying that the missile which hit the ammunition cache was launched from outside the headquarters. The Saba News Agency and First Armored Division officials have denied such claims.

Unexploded projectiles were apparently set off and effectively launched from within the ammunition cache, and landed in different locations in Sana’a.

A source from the General People’s Congress Party contended that the explosion was part of a plot by the First Armored Division to smuggle weapons off the compound premises before visits by the Military Restructuring Committee are made.

At the main gate to the military camp, three men requested that soldiers at the gate – who themselves appeared quite calm a short time after the explosions – accompany them and assess damage to their shop on nearby Sixty Meters Road which was damaged by an unexploded shell.

Hussam Al-Tawrai, the owner of an auto accessories shop, said: “It was my first day in the shop. I heard some explosions emanating from the First Armored Division and I immediately assumed that military training was taking place.”

“All of a sudden, I saw a rocket coming towards my shop. It blasted right through one of the two glass entrances to my shop before it came to a standstill. I’m really happy that I wasn’t hurt, but I want compensation for the damage,” he said.

Two soldiers, as well as the National Yemen reporters, were offered a drive by Al-Tawari in order to survey the damage. He did not allow the soldiers to retrieve the unexploded projectile, and said they could only do so after they had compensated him.

Following the explosions, Sana’a city mayor Abdulqader Hilal asked President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to issue decrees ordering all military camps based in residential areas to be moved outside Sana’a city. Halal also said that all military camps in the city must evacuate their personnel