Bomb tears through Yemen air force bus, killing officer

By Mohammed Ghobari, Reuters

SANAA–A bomb tore through the side of a bus carrying Yemeni air force personnel to their base in the capital Sanaa on Sunday, killing at least one officer and wounding several others, state media reported. Witnesses told Reuters that as many as six people died when the device, planted on the vehicle, exploded and blew passengers’ bodies into the street, but that higher toll could not be immediately confirmed. Separately, Yemeni police said they foiled a plot to carry out a suicide bombing inside a U.S. language institute in Sanaa. The impoverished country, situated next to the world’s top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, is battling a number of armed groups, including al-Qaida fighters who Washington said this month could be planning attacks. Yemen’s security personnel have been targeted by Islamist militants although most of the attacks have taken place in the largely lawless south and east of the Arabian Peninsula state. Regarding Sunday’s bombing, the air force spokesman told Saba news agency: “This cowardly terrorist act resulted in the martyrdom of one person and injured a number of others, several of whom are in a serious condition. They have all been transferred to hospital.” Saba named the dead man as Sergeant Mohammed al-Shaghdari. Air force officer Ameen Saree, who was among the first to reach the scene, earlier said the blast killed at least six people and wounded 26. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Later on Sunday, a Yemeni police spokesman said security forces had detained a suspected al-Qaida militant trying to infiltrate the Yemen-American Language Institute (YALI). The official said security forces became suspicious of the man when he tried to enter the building as a student seeking to register for English courses. Upon searching him, he was found to be wearing an explosives belt, the official told Reuters. Yemen has been gripped by turmoil since pro-democracy demonstrations erupted in early 2011 against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down last year. Suspected al-Qaida militants killed four Yemeni soldiers during an Aug. 11 attack on forces guarding the country’s only liquefied natural gas export terminal in the southern province of Shabwa. In May 2012 a suicide bomber in army uniform killed more than 90 soldiers rehearsing for a parade in the heart of Sanaa.

Earlier this month, Yemeni authorities said that had thwarted a plot by al-Qaida to seize two major oil and gas export terminals and a city in the east of the country. The United States and other Western powers shut their diplomatic missions across the Middle East, Africa and Asia after Washington said it had information about unspecified terrorist threats. Most legations have since reopened.