A Yemeni armed group linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks targeting mosques and the headquarters of the country’s dominant Houthi group in Sanaa.
Dozens of people are reportedly dead and injured in Wednesday’s coordinated attacks on at least three mosques and the political bureau of the Ansarullah movement of the Houthis in the Yemeni capital.
The group said the attacks were in “revenge” against Shia Houthis who have overrun Sanaa, and much of the Sunni majority country in the past one year.
A security official told Reuters that mosques belonging to the members of Zaidi sect of Shia Islam were the target.
The attacks occurred as Muslims around the world prepared for the start of the holy month of Ramadan. Ambulances rushed through the streets in northern and central parts of the capital.
The bombings took place as peace talks in Geneva aimed at halting the fighting in Yemen, were extended until at least Friday.
UN special envoy for Yemen, Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, met the rebel delegation in a Geneva hotel in the evening after talks early in the day with the exiled government delegation.
Lack of progress
Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Geneva, said that both delegations are unhappy with the lack of progress during the talks.
He said the Houthis were waiting for an answer from the UN envoy, about the make up of their delegation to be able to start the talks.
“They [UN] have not been able to bring the two parties to move forward or to implement a humanitarian truce,” Al Jazeera’s Ahelbarra said.
“They do not seem to have very much different options, they had high hopes that they could convince different factions of a two week truce to allow international aid to flow into Yemen.
Houthi rebels and their allies, troops faithful to ousted President Ali Abdallah Saleh, favour a truce but are refusing to withdraw as demanded by the government-in-exile headed by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is backed by Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis say they cannot leave areas they have captured because they think al-Qaeda will take them. The group demanded some guarantees – not by international monitors but by the Yemeni military.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Riad Yassin repeated the exiled government’s stand that a rebel pullout was non-negotiable.
“We are demanding their retreat from all the provinces to conclude a ceasefire or truce in keeping with Resolution 226 of the Security Council,” he said.
A coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been carrying out air strikes in the impoverished country since March 26, after the Houthis took over the government forcing President Hadi to flee the country.
Earlier in the day, Houthi fighters in central Yemen blew up the home of a senior politician, Abdel-Aziz Jubari, while he was attending the Geneva talks as a member of the exiled government’s delegation.
Residents of Dhamar city said the Houthis, who had taken over Jubari’s house in April, dynamited the building early in the morning. Yemeni websites published pictures of its collapsed ceiling on top of a pile of rubble.