The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday confirmed that seven Filipino medical workers were among the 52 people who were killed in a suicide bomb attack on the defense ministry in Yemen.
The hospital where the Filipinos were working is located inside the ministry’s compound, in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, Raul Hernandez, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said.
Hernandez said 11 other Filipinos were injured, but only one will need surgery for a serious head wound.
In a press briefing, Hernandez said a Filipino male doctor and six Filipino medical workers, mostly female nurses, were killed during the terrorist attack.
They were among the 52 people killed and 162 people injured in the incident.
Hernandez is withholding the names of the Filipino fatalities until their next-of-kin are notified.
Based on reports from Honorary Consul Mohammad Al-Jamal, the first bomb exploded at the ministry’s gate at around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday. A second suicide bomber was apprehended but a third was able to enter the compound to detonate the bomb.
The Agence France-Presse reported that a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into the defense ministry complex. A second car brought armed militants into the compound, who opened fire on staff.
Quoting survivors, Hernandez said a suicide bomber brought down part of the hospital in the blast.
“Others survived the ensuing gun battle by pretending to be dead,” Hernandez said.
There are about 40 Filipinos working in the ministry’s hospital. Three of them were vacationing in the Philippines.
Other casualties were from Germany, Vietnam, India, Venezuela, and Yemen, according to Saba news agency and hospital reports.
The Philippines has almost a thousand nationals working in Yemen, Hernandez said.
Vice Consul Redentor Genotiva will be sent to Yemen to assist the victims and determine whether a crisis alert needs to be raised.
A level-one crisis alert has been imposed by the DFA in Yemen since October 2012 because of sporadic violent protests and terrorist activities there.
Although no one has taken responsibility for the attack, many suspect the al-Qaeda, which has been operating in Yemen for years.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. condemned the attack and urged the Yemeni government “to bring the perpetrators to the bar of justice.”
Coloma said the Philippine government is “working with the local authorities to ensure the safety and well-being of our countrymen.”
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Friday said the families of Filipino victims will be given assistance by the government.
Binay called on the Yemini government to assist the families of the victims.
“I hope the Yemeni government will make sure that the families of the bombing casualties are extended all possible assistance they will be needing, particularly in the recovery and repatriation of the victims,” he said.
With reports from Ritchie A. Horario and AFP