A minimum of 52 people perished when a terrorist suicide bomber crashed a car packed with explosives into the defense ministry of Yemen and thus giving gunmen an opportunity to stage an attack on the military complex. Government officials said it was the worst military attack on their country in a year and a half.
The event follows a string of hit and run terrorist assaults on military personnel as the country continues to undergo a tense political transition.
These attacks have been attributed to an Al Qaeda branch located in attacks in the Arabian Peninsula (also known as AQAP). Washington believes this to be the most dangerous sect of the terrorist network.
A team of six doctors and five patients in a hospital inside the complex were among the dead. Altogether, the attack wounded 167 people.
A Yemen security official reported that the suicide bombers car was followed by another vehicle. Terrorists occupying this vehicle opened fire inside the complex.
Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser was in the United States at the time of the attack heading up a visiting military delegation.
A report from the defense ministry said that the terrorists seized an opportunity to attack the Yemen military complex by taking advantage of some construction work to carry out their planned activity. The same report said that security forces had regained control of the complex but another terrorist attack had already been launched. At the time of the report, a gunfight was occurring outside the complex.
Television stations in Yemen were showing disturbing film of bodies that were said to be those of suicide bombers amongst charred vehicles. The same footage showed massive destruction and carnage inside the hospital. Appeals were being made for blood donations.
Yemeni president Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi visited the hospital where his brother is currently a patient and ordered an investigation into the assault.
The security threat brings about concern on an intenational level.The poverty-stricken country of Yemen bores with Saudi Arabia, which is the number one exporter of oil in the world. It is also close to important shipping lanes.
There has been much political unrest in Yemen since Ali Abdullah Saleh was removed in office after 33 years in that position. The ouster came in February 2012 after a year of intense and sometimes fatal protests against his regime. As a result, the country is going through a rough transition that will eventually lead to a new constitution and new parliamentary and presidential elections.
AQAP frequently attacks Yemeni security forces in spite of setbacks in a major military offensive the year before and oft-repeated strikes by US drones that always target terroristic leadership.
Yemeni authorities decided last week to issue a temporary ban on motorcycles in the capital city to prevent the murder of dozens of officials by shootings.
A Belarussian defense contractor was murdered last week by two men on motorcycles.
Violence is not uncommon in Yemen. Largely, this is due to interim government fighting secessionists a in addition to the al Qaeda-linked terrorits, who have as their objective to overthrow the Yemeni government and impose their own brand of Islamic law.
Obviously, the terrorist attack at the military complex in Yemen is just another horrible event in a string of many for the country.
By Rick Hope