IS group claims deadly twin blasts in Yemeni capital
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At least 142 people were killed when four suicide bombers blew themselves up in two mosques in the Yemeni capital Sanaa during Friday prayers in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group, AFP reported.
Both mosques are known to be used mainly by supporters of the Shiite Muslim Houthi group which has seized control of the government.
The Islamic State group, an al Qaeda offshoot of Sunni extremists, claimed responsibility for the attacks in an online statement, Reuters and AFP reported. A White House spokesman said that the US could not confirm the claim.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on Friday denied any involvement in the attacks and confirmed in a statement that, per the orders of al Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman El Dawahiri, they avoided targeting mosques or public markets in order to spare innocent Muslim lives.
The four bombers attacked the Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques during midday Friday prayers, traditionally the most crowded time of the week, according to state news agency Saba.
The Shiite rebel-owned Al-Masirah TV channel said area 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.
At the Badr mosque, militia guards caught the first bomber while searching worshippers at the entrance and he detonated his device there. Amid the ensuing panic, a second bomber entered the mosque and blew himself up in the crowd, Saba agency said.
‘Blood running like a river’
Survivors compared the explosions to an earthquake, and said some of the worshippers were subsequently injured by shattered glass falling from the mosque’s large chandeliers.
One witness said he was thrown two metres away by one of the blasts.
“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 was running like a river.”
Another survivor, Sadek al-Harithi, described the scene as, “an earthquake where I felt the ground split and swallow everyone”.
Television footage showed screaming volunteers using bloodied blankets to carry away victims inside al-Hashoosh mosque. The dead included a small child, and corpses were lined up on the mosque floor and carried away in pick-up trucks.
The Shiite Houthis’ control of the government has fanned fears of a sectarian conflict and full-blown civil war.
Yemen’s majority population is Sunni while the Shiite Zaydi sect represents a third of the nation.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS, AFP)