Militants assault yemeni defence ministry complex
Sana’a, 5 December
A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-packed car into Yemen’s defence ministry today, allowing gunmen to launch an assault on the complex which left 25 people, including three foreign doctors dead, officials said.
The brazen attack on the sprawling complex follows a spate of hit-and-run strikes on military personnel and officials, as the country struggles to complete a thorny political transition.
The attacks in the capital and in the country’s south have been blamed on Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which Washington regards as the jihadist network’s most dangerous branch.
“At least 25 people have been killed,” said a security official, shortly after the defence ministry had put the death toll at 20.
Six doctors, including a Venezuelan and two from the Philippines, and three Yemenis, along with five patients, including a judge, were among the dead, medical sources said.
The were at a hospital that lies within the ministry’s complex, which bore the brunt of the attack.
“A car bomb driven by a suicide bomber forced its way into the western entrance of the ministry complex,” a security official said. “It was followed by another car whose occupants opened fire at the complex of buildings,” he said.
The attack comes as Defence Minister Mohammed Nasser is heading a military delegation on a visit to the USA.
The ministry said gunmen occupied the hospital after the explosion, but security forces had regained control of the building. “The assailants took advantage of some construction work that is taking place to carry out this criminal act,” it said without elaborating.
A security source said another, apparently coordinated, attack had been launched and a gunfight was raging outside the complex in the early afternoon.
State television aired gory footage of torn up bodies of what it said were suicide bombers, strewn in hospital’s yard amid charred vehicles.
It also showed immense destruction within the hospital as well as floors stained with blood.
“I heard a series of explosions, and then an exchange of fire,” a wounded soldier told AFP.
State television broadcast appeals for blood donations at hospitals treating the wounded.