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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Friday, March 20, 2015
MASSACRE IN YEMEN: Terror blasts at two mosques kill at least 137
ISIS claims credit for twin suicide attacks in Yemen
ISIS militants claimed credit for suicide bombings that killed more than 100 and injured hundreds more in two mosques during midday prayers Friday in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, as the nation continued its collapse into chaos, terror and death amid fighting between Islam’s two major sects.
Witnesses said as many as four suicide bombers blew themselves up in the mosques, used by the Shia Muslim Houthi group, which has seized control of the government. The attacks, which also left hundreds injured, were preceded by an assault on a palace where the ousted president is living, according to reports. Yemen has seen escalating violence in recent months between the majority Sunni Muslims, who include Al Qaeda affiliates, and the Shia, who are backed by Iran.
Worshippers were attending noon prayers at the Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques in the capital when the attacks occurred, according to a report on the rebel-owned Al-Masirah TV channel. One witness at the al-Hashoosh mosque, located in Sanaa's northern district, said that he was thrown some six feet away by the blast. Reuters cited medical sources in reporting the death toll, which was revised upward several times. The rebel-owned Al-Masirah TV channel said the casualty figures had reached 137 dead and 345 injured and reported that hospitals were urging citizens to donate blood. It also reported that a fifth suicide bomb attack on another mosque was foiled in the northern city of Saada -- a Houthi stronghold.
"The heads, legs and arms of the dead people were scattered on the floor of the mosque."
- Mohammed al-Ansi, witness to attack on Yemeni mosque
"The heads, legs and arms of the dead people were scattered on the floor of the mosque," Mohammed al-Ansi told The Associated Press, adding, "blood is running like a river."
Al-Ansi added that many of those who didn't die in the explosion were seriously injured by shattered glass falling from the mosque's windows. He recalled running for the door along with other survivors and hearing one man screaming, "come back, save the injured!"
ISIS claimed credit for the attack in a tweet on an account associated with the terrorist group. If it indeed carried out the operation, it would mark the terrorist group's first major attack in Yemen.
The northern-based rebels, known as the Houthis, seized control of Sanaa last September and in January put President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the entire government, including Prime Minister Khaled Bahah, under house arrest. The Houthis later declared they have taken over the country.
The bombings came a day after deadly clashes in the southern city of Aden, between forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi supporters of his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Warplanes later targeted the presidential palace in Aden, where Hadi has been holed up since fleeing Sanaa last month. Hadi, who aides said was evacuated to a "safe place" after the air raid, called the Aden attack part of a "failed military coup against constitutional legitimacy."
Saleh was ousted in favor of Hadi in 2011 after mass protests, part of the so-called Arab Spring, but has remained a power-broker in the country. He is currently allied with the Houthis, against whom he fought wars when he was president. The Houthis now control at least nine of Yemen's 21 provinces.
The chaos in Yemen is just the latest blow to the Arab Spring, a movement that began in Tunisia in 2010 and swept much of the Muslim world, promising initially to bring democracy to nations long under the boot of Islamist dictatorships. Although the movement was cheered by the Obama administration, it has proven a failure, and violence has even gripped Tunisia, where two gunmen killed 23 people at a museum Wednesday in an attack for which ISIS claimed credit.