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Doctors killed in Yemen's ministry assault

52 doctors and nurses were killed following the attack and 167 people have been wounded.

Last updated: 05 Dec 2013 18:39
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The Yemeni Defence Ministry said the attack on its compound had targeted a hospital [EPA]

A suicide bombing has rocked Yemen's defence ministry complex in the heart of the capital Sanaa, followed by a gun battle that left many casualties, according to the Yemeni Defence Ministry.

Yemen's Higher Security Committee said 52 doctors and nurses were killed in Thursday's attack on the Ministry of Defence and around 162 people were injured.

A suicide bomber and gunmen wearing army uniforms targeted the ministry compound in the capital Sanaa in the worst single attack in Yemen for 18 months.

A statement by the committee said some of those killed were Germans. It did not give a number of officers and gunmen dead.

The ministry said that the attackers had targeted and badly damaged a hospital inside the complex but that the situation was now under control. Foreign doctors and nurses are reported to be among the ones killed.

The suicide explosion was caused by a bomber who drove a car packed with explosives into the gate, media reports quoted the defence ministry as saying. The blast was followed by another car of gunmen opening fire at the ministry.

Plumes of smoke billowed across the complex, situated on the edge of the Baba al-Yaman neighbourhood.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Fighters emboldened

Yemen has been plagued with a series of violent attacks, as the interim government grapples with southern secessionists, al-Qaeda-linked groups and northern Houthi rebels, as well as severe economic problems inherited from veteran President Ali Abdallah Saleh who was forced out of office following protests against his rule in 2011.

Fighters were emboldened by a decline in government control over the country and seized several southern cities before being driven out in 2012 in an offensive supported by United States and drones.

Al-Qaeda-linked fighters have killed hundreds of Yemeni soldiers and members of the security forces in a series of attacks since then.

In July last year, a suicide bomber wearing a Yemeni army uniform killed more than 90 people rehearsing for a military parade in Sanaa. Al-Qaeda later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Yemen's defense minister, Major General Muhammad Nasir Ahmad, escaped a car bomb on his motorcade in September 2012 that killed at least 12 other people.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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