Yemen’s government says its troops have “wiped out” a group of gunmen and retaken a defense ministry compound in Sanaa. It has lifted the toll to 52 people killed and 167 wounded, with Germans among the fatalities.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said two German aid workers and a Yemeni employee were among those killed. The Germans worked for Germany’s federal GIZ agency for international cooperation.
Westerwelle condemned the attack, describing it as “cowardly” and demanded an immediate investigation.
Medics among those killed
A Yemeni ministry official and medics were quoted by Reuters as saying that the gunmen shot dead a Western doctor and a Filipino nurse at the clinic inside the compound.
The news agency Reuters said among those killed in the clinic was a relative of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu.
There was no initial claim of responsibility, but media speculation and experts said the attack bore the hallmarks of al Qaida.
Over the past two years, Yemen has grappled with al Qaeda-linked militants who repeatedly attack government offices and installations.
Blast at gate
Ministry employees were arriving for work on Thursday as a suicide bomber triggered a large blast at the compound’s gate. A second vehicle entered, carrying gunmen dressed in Yemini army uniforms.
“The explosion was very violent, the whole place shook,” said an employee who works in a building nearby.
The ensuing gunbattle went on for hours. Yemen’s health ministry appealed for blood donations.
Defense Minister, Major General Muhammad Nasir Ahmad was not caught up in the attack. On Thursday he had been visiting the United States.
And, a top meeting of commanders was missed by the attackers because it had been delayed for several hours.
ipj/rc (Reuters, AP, AFP)