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Middle East

Yemen defense minister survives car bombing

Latest update : 2012-09-11

An attack on the motorcade of the Yemeni defense minister claimed the lives of over a dozen people on Tuesday but left the minister himself unharmed, security officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

A powerful car bomb struck the Yemeni defense minister’s motorcade as he was driving through the nation’s capital Tuesday, killing at least 13 people but leaving the minister unharmed, security officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has carried out several failed assassination attempts against the minister in the past.

The attack comes a day after Yemeni authorities announced the death of the No. 2 leader of the network’s Yemeni branch in an apparent U.S. airstrike.

Tuesday’s bombing hit the last vehicle in the minister’s three-car convoy as it was travelling through Sanaa’s al-Izaa neighborhood. The blast completely destroyed the car, and blew out the windows of nearby shops.

Eight of the minister’s security guards and five civilian bystanders were killed, the officials said on condition of anonymity .

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt, but al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror network’s Yemeni branch, has been locked in a fierce battle with the country’s military.

In May, the group carried out a suicide bombing that killed 96 soldiers and wounded at least 200 in a military parade in the capital. Al Qaeda said it had been targeting Ahmed, who was not hurt in the attack.

Last September, a suicide attacker driving an explosives-laden car blew himself up in the southern city of Aden next to the minister’s passing convoy. Ahmed escaped that attack unscathed as well.

A month earlier, the minister’s convoy also came under attack in the southern province of Abyan, which was an al Qaeda stronghold at the time.

Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch is seen as the world’s most active, planning and carrying out attacks against targets in Yemen as well as in the U.S. The group took advantage of the political vacuum during unrest inspired by the Arab Spring last year against the country’s longtime authoritarian president.

The death on Monday of al-Qaeda in Yemen’s No. 2 leader is seen as a major breakthrough for U.S. efforts to cripple the terror network in Yemen. The impoverished nation on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula is on the doorstep of Saudi Arabia and fellow oil-producing nations of the Gulf and lies on strategic sea routes leading to the Suez Canal.

Also on Tuesday, more than 200,000 Yemenis took to the streets demanding the repeal of an amnesty for ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, in the largest protest since the veteran leader stepped down in February, organizers said.

France 24 with wires

Date created : 2012-09-11

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