Yemen car bomber targets worshippers

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The Independent Online

Six people were killed and at least 35 wounded today when a bomb hidden in a motorcycle exploded outside a mosque in Yemen's volatile northern city of Saada.

The blast happened as worshippers, including army officers, were leaving the Salman Mosque after Friday prayers, officials and security sources said.

"We estimate so far six dead and around 35 wounded," Motahhar Rashad told Al-Jazeera television. "It is a large mosque."

Rescue workers were still helping people at the scene, and medical sources told Reuters around 100 people had been taken to two hospitals in the area.

It was not known who planted the bomb near the door of the mosque, but the northwestern province has been rocked by sporadic violence since a conflict broke out in 2004 between government forces and rebels loyal to Abdul-Malik al-Houthi.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have fled their homes in Saada since the conflict began.

Seven Yemeni troops were killed late on Tuesday in an ambush by the rebels, who often clash with troops of the U.S.-allied Yemeni government and tribes loyal to it.

Yemeni officials say the rebels, from the Zaydi sect of Shi'ite Islam, want to return to a form of clerical rule prevalent in the country until the 1960s. The rebels say they are defending their villages against what they call government aggression.

Sunni Muslims form a majority of Yemen's 19 million population, while most of the rest, including Houthi and his supporters, are Zaydis.

Houthi's supporters, who are not believed to be linked to al Qaeda, oppose Yemen's alliance with the United States.