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CARNAGE; Suicide bomber slaughters 96 soldiers.

Byline: DEMELZA de BURCA

MORE than 95 people were killed yesterday in a suicide bomb attack during a military parade rehearsal in Yemen's capital Sanaa.

The assailant, who was reportedly wearing an army uniform, blew himself up among a group of soldiers at al-Sabin Square, near the Presidential palace.

Medical sources put the death toll at 96, with 300 wounded. It was the deadliest attack in the capital since President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi took power in February.

Human remains were scattered across the square and ambulance crews struggled to get the huge number of wounded to seven hospitals.

Col Amin al-Alghabati said: "We were in a parade, suddenly there was a huge explosion. Dozens of our men were killed. We tried to help them. The suicide bomber was dressed in a military uniform. He had a belt of explosives underneath."

It is not clear if the attacker had been taking part in the drill or had walked up to the soldiers shortly before detonating his bomb.

Defence Minister Nasser Ahmed and the army chief-of-staff were reportedly in the square at the time, but were not hurt.

No group has said it was behind the bombing but several soldiers blamed al-Qaeda.

They had been practising for a parade for National Unity Day today to mark the anniversary of the 1990 unification of the Marxist People's Democratic Republic of Yemen - also known as South Yemen - and the Yemen Arab Republic - known as North Yemen. Brig Karim Nahil said: "Yemenis Yemen. Brig Karim N must stand together in the face of this deadly terrorist threat.

"We will celebrate our unity tomorrow with the blood of our martyrs on our hands and faces."

Yesterday's attack comes 10 days after the military launched an offensive against Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the southern province of Abyan.

Over the weekend, at least 33 militants and 19 soldiers were reportedly killed in clashes near the town of Jaar, in Abyan.

On Sunday, a US Coast Guard instructor was shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen as he drove through the eastern Red Sea port of Hodeida.

Ansar al-Sharia - Partisans of Islamic law - later said it had been behind the attack. It attracts marginalised Salafi jihadists who advocate ji the violent overthrow of the government.

President Hadi has moved to restructure the military, to purge it of those closest to his predecessor.

CAPTION(S):

WIPED OUT Troops rush to bodies EVACUATION Rescuing the living KILLER BLAST Officer collects evidence yesterday
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:7YEME
Date:May 22, 2012
Words:416
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