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52 people killed in Yemen ministry attack

A car is burning at the site of a suicide car bombing at the defence ministry in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-packed car into Yemen''s defence ministry, allowing gunmen to launch an assault on the complex which left 25 people including three foreign doctors dead, officials said. AFP PHOTO

A suicide bomber and gunmen wearing army uniforms attacked Yemen's defence ministry, killing 52 people including foreign medical staff, government sources said, in the worst single militant assault in Yemen in 18 months.

One attacker drove a car packed with explosives into the gate of the ministry's compound, then gunmen in another vehicle sped in and opened fire on soldiers and doctors and nurses working at a hospital inside, witnesses told Reuters.

The coordinated strikes wounded 167 people, said the Yemeni government's security committee. Two German and two Vietnamese doctors, and one Indian and two Filipino nurses were among the dead, it added.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but a Yemeni expert on Islamist militant affairs said it bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

Yemen has been grappling with al Qaeda-linked militants who have repeatedly attacked government officials and installations over the past two years.

The security threat is an international concern. The US-allied country shares a long border with Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, and the branch of al Qaeda that is based there has plotted attacks against Western targets.

Ministry staff were arriving for work when the suicide bomber struck, two sources inside the ministry said.

The massive blast shook the bustling Bab al-Yemen neighbourhood on the edge of the capital Sanaa's old city, a warren of market stalls and stone tower houses decorated with stained glass windows and ornate plasterwork.

"The explosion was very violent, the whole place shook because of it," said an employee who works in the area where the country's central bank is also located.

Medics and a defence ministry official said the gunmen pulled a Western doctor and a Filipino nurse into the hospital's courtyard and shot them in front of local staff.

The attackers also killed one of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's relatives who was visiting a patient in the site, the defence ministry said on its website.

Security forces retook the compound after killing most of the attackers, the ministry added.

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Tags:  Yemen  attack  ministry of defence  


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