Originally published on December 6, 2013
Suicide attacks on Yemen's defense ministry left at least 52 dead and 167 wounded on Thursday (December 5).
Militants launched the attacks on the heavily guarded compound located in Sanaa's Bab al-Yaman district. Yemen's Central Bank is also located in the area.
The New York Times reported that the attacks were synchronised with the changing of the guard shift. A suicide bomber, dressing like a soldier, drove a car filled with explosives into the compound and detonated the car bomb, sending billows of smoke into the air.
"The explosion was very violent, the whole place shook because of it and plumes of smoke rose from the building," an employee who works in a nearby building told Reuters.
A pickup truck carrying 13 armed militants followed the first vehicle through the destroyed gate minutes after, and exchanged gunfire with security forces. The assailants, also in military uniform, stormed the hospital inside the Defense Ministry complex. They were heavily armed with assault rifles, hand grenade and rocket-propelled grenade.
Yemeni authorities said all militants were killed, while the hospital was badly damaged.
The bloodbath lasted for an hour, resulting in heavy casualties. Military officials said at least 52 people, including ten soldiers, four doctors and four nurses, died. Another 167 people were injured.
According to Reuters, an Al-Qaeda-linked militant group has claimed responsibility for the attacks on Friday (December 6).
"In pursuance of the policy of targeting pilotless planes operation rooms, the mujahideen (holy fighters) have heavily struck one of these rooms in the Ministry of Defence headquarters," Ansar al-Sharia said on Twitter in the early hours of Friday.
Yemen has witnessed multiple terrorist attacks in recent years. The country is battling several insurgencies, including southern secessionists, al-Qaeda-linked militants and northern Houthi rebels.
Government control over the nation diminished, enabling the insurgents to take over some southern cities. However, they were driven out in 2012 during an offensive supported by the U.S.
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