SANAA: A powerful suicide bombing ripped through the Yemeni capital on Thursday, killing at least 47 people and plunging the violence-plagued country into further turmoil after weeks of political deadlock.
Dozens more were wounded in the attack in Sanaa’s Al-Tahrir square, which targeted a gathering for supporters of Shiite insurgents who overran the capital last month.
A separate suicide attack killed 20 soldiers in southeastern Yemen in a car bombing suspected of having been carried out by Al-Qaeda, a military source told Agence France-Presse.
Yemen has been wracked by political turmoil and sporadic violence since the 2011 uprising that toppled strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, with rebels and militants battling to exploit a power vacuum.
The bombing in Sanaa came a day after Yemen’s new prime minister designate, named as part of a United Na- tions-brokered peace deal, refused the post amid fierce rebel opposition.
The health ministry said 47 people were killed and 75 others wounded.
Witnesses said a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt at a checkpoint at the entrance to the protest gathering, adding steel balls were seen strewn at the scene of the blast.
“He came to the security [checkpoint]and blew himself up while being checked,” witness Abdulsalam Amer told Agence France-Presse, describing “bodies lying on the ground.”
The lifeless bodies of four children could be seen among the victims, while footage aired by rebel-linked Al-Masirah television showed corpses lying in pools of blood in the street.
Supporters of the rebels, known as Huthis, gathered after the blast—the largest in Sanaa since May 2012—demanding the fall of beleaguered President Abdrabuh Man- sur Hadi.
In a meeting with foreign ambassadors, Hadi condemned the “coward terrorist bombing.”
The United States strongly condemned what it called a “despicable attack against civilians”.
Iran also expressed condolences over “this blind and inhuman act of terrorism.”
The Huthis, who are also referred to as Ansarullah, swept into the capital on September 21 after fierce battles with forces allied to the government in Sanaa that left more than 270 dead.
A UN-brokered peace accord, which called for a rebel withdrawal from Sanaa and the naming of a neutral premier, was struck the same day.
But the Huthis have dug their heels in, refusing to support Hadi’s choice for prime mi- nister and demanding a greater role in decision making as well as political and economic reform.