5 Dec 2013

‘More than 20 dead’ in Yemen defence HQ bomb and gun attack

A gun battle takes place inside Yemen’s defence ministry, after a suicide bomber drove into the compound’s gates. More than 20 people are reported to have been killed.

Yemen defence ministry (picture: Getty)

A ministry source said there had been a “large number of casualties”, following the car bomb attack in Yemen’s capital Sanaa early on Thursday.

The source estimated that more than 20 people had been killed so far in the attack. Among the dead are some of the attackers.

Following the explosion at the gates of the compound, gunmen in military uniforms infiltrated the ministry.

The ministry source said the attack had targeted a hospital inside the compound, but added that the situation was now under control.

Violence is common in Yemen, where an interim government is grappling with southern secessionists, al Qaeda-linked militants and northern Houthi rebels, as well as severe economic problems inherited from veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Earlier this year the Yemeni government claimed to have foiled an al-Qaeda plot to seize oil and gas facilities in the country.

An number of Western embassy staff also evacuated the country this year, following an al-Qaeda threat.