Yemen: Car bombs in Shia Muslim mosques kill dozens in Sana’a

18th Jun 2015

[Photo: Screenshot from Ruptly video]

SANAA, June 17 (Xinhua and Agencies): At least 31 people were killed on Wednesday and dozens wounded in five simultaneous blasts at Shia mosques and a house in the rebel-held Yemeni capital, Sana’a on the eve of Ramadan, medics and witnesses said.

Two car bombs targeted mosques, while a third hit the house of the head of the Huthi rebels’ politburo, Saleh al-Sammad, witnesses and security officials said.

Among the mosques hit by car bombs was Al-Hashush, which was targeted in March in a series of suicide bombings against Shia houses of worship claimed by the Islamic State group that killed 142 people. The other car bomb hit the Al-Quba Al-Khadra mosque in the central Hayel district, which is frequented by Huthi supporters. Explosive devices also went off at two other mosques — Al-Kibssi and Al-Tayssir in Al-Ziraa district, with all the attacks timed to coincide with Muslim sunset prayers.

Three cars laden with explosives went off near the office of the Houthi political bureau, the highest decision making body, in northern Yemen, killing 18 Houthi supporters, security sources told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The explosions occurred when they were holding a ceremony on the holy month of Ramadan organized by the Houthi group.

Several minutes later, three mosques controlled by the Houthis were attacked simultaneously by car bombs, leaving dozens of people wounded, the sources added.

IS has claimed responsibility of the bomb attacks.

“The soldiers of the Islamic State in Yemen, in a wave of military operations as revenge for the Muslims against the Houthi apostates, detonated four car bombs near the centres of Houthi apostasy,” a statement from the IS group read.

On March 20, IS suicide bombers attacked two mosques in Sanaa and Houthi headquarters in the northern Saada province, killing at least 137 people, the most deadliest attacks in Yemen for decades.

The blasts happened when the Saudi-led coalition forces carried out air strikes against the Houthi group as delegates in Geneva achieved no breakthrough after two days of peace talks.

The UN-sponsored peace talks kicked off on Monday with the participation of all Yemeni factions, aiming to push for a truce during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

However, there was no progress despite the shuttle diplomacy of UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

“As long as we have not reached the point where the Yemenis agree together, (to talk to the UN) will be very difficult,” the envoy said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ahmed described the consultations as “an important start towards the return to a political process,” saying “after overcoming great challenges, having now both delegations here in Geneva is a great achievement and we should not underestimate the significance of this event.”

“I hope that the Yemeni sides will utilize the consultations to share ideas, in particular about how to alleviate the humanitarian situation and to de-escalate the violence,” he said.

About 35 people were killed when warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition forces bombed a civilian convoy in Yemen’s southern province of Lahj on Wednesday, a Yemeni government official told Xinhua.

“A number of civilian vehicles carrying displaced people were hit by mistake while traveling on a road linking between Aden province and neighboring southern Lahj province, killing about 35 people at the scene,” the local government official based in Lahj said on condition of anonymity.

The fighter jets also struck Houthi militia and military camps loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa and northern province of Dhamar.

Yemen has mired in political gridlock since 2011 when mass protests forced former President Ali Abdullash Saleh to step down. The three-year reconciliation talks failed to resolve the crisis but create huge power vacuum.

The Shiite Houthi group seized the capital Sanaa by force in September, 2014 and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia in late March.

An Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia responded to a request by Hadi to intervene and launched air strikes on Houthi targets since March 26.

The UN aid agencies said more than 2,200 people were killed and 11,000 wounded in the air strikes and ground battles between the Houthis and pro-government tribal fighters since March 26.

About one million people were displaced and more than 20 million need humanitarian aids, they said.

 

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