Al-Qaeda claims deadly attack on Yemen defence complex

AFP , Friday 6 Dec 2013

A police car blocks a road leading to the Defence Ministry's compound as smoke rises after an attack, in Sanaa December 5, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on Friday claimed an attack on a Yemeni defence complex that killed 52 people, in a statement published on the Internet by its media arm.

The defence ministry complex was "stormed and attacked on Thursday... after the mujahedeen (holy fighters) proved that it accommodates drone control rooms and American experts," it said on Twitter.

"As part of a policy to target drone control rooms, the mujahedeen have dealt a heavy blow to one" in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, added the statement by the Al-Malahem foundation.

"Such security headquarters in partnership with the Americans in their war on these Muslim people are a justified target wherever they may be," warned AQAP, classified by the United States as Al-Qaeda's deadliest branch.

Fifty-two people were killed on Thursday when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-packed car into the defence ministry complex in Sanaa and opened the way for an armed assault.

Two doctors from Germany, two from Vietnam and another from Yemen were killed, as well two female nurses from the Philippines and one from India, said Yemen's official Saba news agency.

But the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs has given a much higher toll of its nationals killed in the assault, saying that seven Filipino hospital workers, including a doctor, died.

All of the medics killed had worked at a hospital within the complex that bore the brunt of the attack.

The agency said 167 people were wounded, nine of them seriously.

The brazen daylight attack on the sprawling facility followed a spate of hit-and-run strikes on military personnel and officials, as the country struggles to complete a thorny political transition.

The attacks in the capital and in the south have generally been blamed on AQAP.

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