96 soldiers killed in huge suicide bomb blast in Yemen capital Sanaa

  • @johnmatthewhall

At least 96 soldiers have been killed in a huge suicide bomb blast during a rehearsal for a military parade in Yemen, Interior Ministry officials said.

The attacker was one of the solders taking part in the parade, held near the presidential palace in the main square of the country’s capital city Sanaa.

The bomber detonated his explosives minutes before the arrival of the defence minister and the chief of staff, leaving a scene of carnage, with scores of bleeding soldiers lying on the ground as ambulances rushed to the scene.

The drill was a rehearsal for a parade for the celebration of Yemen's National Day tomorrow.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, but the solders targeted were part of a paramilitary force commanded by the nephew of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who relinquished power in February in a US-backed power-transfer deal brokered by Gulf Arab countries.

Saleh’s replacement, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has pledged to restructure the army, purging it of Saleh's family members and anti-reform loyalists.

Hadi has also vowed to fight al-Qa'ida, which expanded its foothold in Yemen after exploiting political and security turmoil in the country.

In recent weeks, the army has launched a concerted effort to uproot the militants from their strongholds - and is closely co-ordinating with a small contingent of US troops who are helping guide the operations from inside Yemen.

Elsewhere in Yemen, three US Coast Guard trainers came under attack by militants belonging to an al-Qa'ida front group.

The three Americans were travelling in a car near their hotel in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida yesterday when the militants pulled up in another vehicle and sprayed them with machine gun fire. One of the group was injured, officials said.