Yemeni officials say a suicide bomber attacked a military parade rehearsal in the capital Sana’a on Monday, killing at least 96 troops and wounding more than 200 others.
Officials say the bomber was dressed in a military uniform and detonated the explosives as hundreds of soldiers gathered around him. Yemen’s defense minister was at the rehearsal but was unharmed.
The soldiers were preparing for a parade on Tuesday to mark the unification of Yemen’s north and south. Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was due to attend the parade.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. But it coincides with a U.S.-backed
Yemeni government offensive against al-Qaida militants who seized parts of the country’s south last year as it was engulfed in a popular uprising against then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Hadi, who succeeded Saleh in February, has vowed to fight the growing presence of the terrorist network’s regional affiliate, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Economist Intelligence Unit Middle East analyst Robert Powell said al-Qaida has been trying to organize itself in Sana’a for a long time and its activities usually have been disrupted. He said the symbolism and substantial casualties from the attack on the military parade rehearsal indicate that al-Qaida has a greater reach inside Yemen than previously known.