Monday, May 21, 2018

Yemen marks Unity Day with somber ceremony after massive suicide bombing

SANA, Yemen — Yemen's top officials attended a somber ceremony commemorating the country's 1990 unification Tuesday, a day after a suicide attack killed 96 soldiers in one of the bloodiest days in the nation's history.

Government sources said they had identified the perpetrator of Monday's suicide bombing, which targeted a rehearsal for the Unity Day parade. The bomber, they said, wore two shrapnel-packed suicide vests under a military uniform, allowing him to inflict maximum damage as he entered Sabain Square, the 10-lane road near the presidential palace where the attack took place. At least 200 were wounded

Security was tight for Tuesday's commemoration, which was moved from the site of the attack to an air force academy elsewhere in the capital. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi watched from behind a protective bulletproof shield.

Despite a visible increase in security, a tenuous sense of calm returned to Sana, though traffic was light and many shops and businesses were closed, owing to the national holiday. Monday's attack marked the most significant outbreak of violence in the capital in months, shattering fragile hopes for progress that had taken hold since Hadi's inauguration in February, which followed a yearlong, occasionally violent uprising against the rule of his predecessor, longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Yemen-based group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, dubbed by U.S. officials as "the most dangerous node in the global jihad," claimed responsibility for the attack, characterizing it as a response to an ongoing, U.S.-backed Yemeni military offensive against al-Qaida-linked militants in the nation's south.

The claim was in addition to one by an al-Qaida-linked group in Yemen, Ansar al Shariah, which cited the same rationale for the attack in a posting on a website.

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