By Pia Lee-Brago, AP
MANILA, Philippines – The Yemeni government should bring the perpetrators of the attack on a military hospital that left 52 dead, including seven Filipino health workers, to justice.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued the statement following reports that al-Qaeda issued a rare apology for the attack and death of the victims.
“We have not yet received confirmatory reports on the alleged statements of al-Qaeda,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a text message.
“Nevertheless, we maintain that the loss of lives in the bombing incident in Sana’a is deplorable and we continue to urge the Yemeni government to do everything in its power to bring the perpetrators of this barbaric and senseless act to justice,” he said.
Qassim al-Rimi, commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, said in a video posted on militant websites that the attackers were warned in advance not to enter the hospital within the complex, nor a place for prayer there. But he said one fighter did.
“Now, we acknowledge our mistake and guilt,” al-Rimi said in a video released late Saturday by al-Qaeda’s media arm al-Mallahem.
“We offer our apology and condolences to the victims’ families. We accept full responsibility for what happened in the hospital and will pay blood money for the victims’ families.”
A Yemen state television earlier broadcast a video showing a gunman attacking doctors and other hospital staff. Several al-Qaeda jihadis tried to dismiss the video as fake on militant websites, but the outcry apparently embarrassed the al-Qaeda branch to the point of issuing an unusual expression of regret from the group.
“We rid ourselves of what our brother did,” al-Rimi said. “We did not order him to do so and we are not pleased with what he did.”
However, al-Rimi said despite the group making a mistake, “we are continuing with our jihad.”
Yemeni President Abdo Rabbo Hadi earlier expressed regret for the tragedy and declared the seven Filipino medical workers and Yemeni victims killed in the suicide car bomb attack at the Defense Ministry complex in Sana’a as “martyrs.”