SANAA: A powerful suicide bomb rocked the Yemeni capital Thursday, killing at least 32 people in an attack on supporters of Huthi insurgents who have overrun the city, rebel-linked television said.
Dozens more were wounded in the blast which struck Sanaa’s Al-Tahrir square as supporters of the rebels were preparing to stage a protest, the Al-Masirah channel said.
A rebel source earlier said 21 people were killed in the attack. An AFP photographer saw the lifeless bodies of four children among the victims.
Witnesses said a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt at a checkpoint at the entrance to the protest site, with steel balls strewn at the scene.
In another attack in southeastern Yemen, a suspected Al-Qaeda suicide bomber killed 10 soldiers at an army checkpoint in the province of Hadramawt, the military said.
In Sanaa, supporters of the rebels, known as Huthis, gathered after the explosion chanting slogans demanding the fall of President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
The president infuriated the rebels earlier this week by naming his chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, as prime minister following a UN-brokered peace deal under which the insurgents would withdraw from Sanaa.
Bin Mubarak late Wednesday declined to take the post, saying he wanted to “preserve the national unity and protect the country from divisions.”
In addition to the Huthis swooping south from their Saada stronghold in the north, the authorities have also had to deal with southern secessionist aspirations and a bloody campaign by the country’s Al-Qaeda franchise.
Impoverished Yemen, which borders oil-rich Saudi Arabia, is a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda, which has carried out persistent attacks on the security forces.