SANAA: A car bomb blast tore through dozens of Yemenis lined up at a police academy in Sanaa on Wednesday, killing more than 30 in the latest attack highlighting the country’s growing instability.
Official news agency Saba quoted the interior ministry as saying at least 31 people had died and dozens were wounded in what it described as the “terrorist bombing” targeting potential police recruits.
Unstable and impoverished Yemen has been hit by a wave of violence in recent months, with a powerful Shiite militia, known as Huthis, clashing with tribal forces and the country’s branch of Al-Qaeda.
Witness Khaled Ajlan said the early morning blast targeted a group of about 60 “new students who were registering at the police academy.”
The charred remains of the dead, mostly young men, were piled on the sidewalk outside the academy alongside blood-soaked documents they had been carrying.
The wreckage of a car – presumably the one used in the attack – sat nearby, with little remaining but mangled metal and the steering wheel.
Rescue workers loaded bodies into the back of ambulances, which pushed their way through gathered onlookers, many taking pictures of the carnage with their mobile telephones.
The health ministry issued alerts to Sanaa residents urging them to “donate blood at government hospitals to help the wounded.”
It was not immediately clear who was behind the blast but Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the jihadist network’s powerful affiliate in Yemen, has claimed responsibility for previous such attacks on security forces.
Speaking to Agence France-Presse at the scene, a member of the unofficial Huthi security forces accused “radicals belonging to Al-Qaeda” of carrying out the attack.
The interior ministry said registration at the academy would be suspended for a week.
Many of the potential recruits had travelled from other parts of the country to the academy and the ministry said that in the future it would register them locally to avoid another such gathering being targeted.
Yemen has been dogged by instability since an uprising forced longtime strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in 2012.
Unrest grew after the Huthis, also known as Ansarullah, overran Sanaa unopposed on September 21.
The militia have since expanded their presence in central and western Yemen, meeting fierce resistance from Sunni tribes and Al-Qaeda militants.
The increasing violence has raised fears of Yemen – a key US ally that shares a long border with oil-rich Saudi Arabia – becoming a failed state fueling regional instability.
A suicide bomb attack on Huthi supporters in central Yemen last week killed 49 people.
Four people including a reporter were killed Sunday in another blast targeting a gathering of Huthis in southwestern Yemen, while six militiamen were wounded in a blast in Sanaa on Monday.
AQAP, considered by the United States to be Al-Qaeda’s most dangerous branch, has pledged to fight the Huthis.