Car Bomb Kills Dozens of Applicants at Police Academy in Yemen

JAN. 7, 2015

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Soldiers collected evidence at the scene of a car bombing outside a police academy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, on Wednesday. CreditYahya Arhab/European Pressphoto Agency

CAIRO — A large car bomb exploded outside a police academy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, early Wednesday, killing or wounding dozens of applicants who were lined up at the building’s gate, according to security officials.

An Interior Ministry official said that at least 31 people were killed and that more than 70 were wounded.

Investigators said there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing. It was the deadliest attack in the capital since October, when a suicide bomber killed nearly 50 people at a protest.

Video of the aftermath of Wednesday’s bombing showed bodies in heaps outside the walls of the academy and police officers removing the mangled wreckage of cars.

Violence has surged in Yemen over the past few months, reflecting growing instability and tension since the Houthis, a former rebel group, took control of Sana in late September. The Houthis have expanded their reach across the country, galvanizing their opponents, including Sunni extremists belonging to Al Qaeda’s local affiliate, who have responded with an intensifying campaign of bombings and assassinations.

Scenes of carnage like that on Wednesday are becoming disturbingly routine in Yemen, an impoverished country bedeviled by the persistent strength of the militants of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the local branch of the extremist group and a frequent target of United States missile strikes.

Al Qaeda regards the Houthis as heretics because their leadership is drawn from the minority Zaydi sect, an offshoot of Shiism.

The American missile strikes, combined with the Houthi advance, appear to be transforming Al Qaeda into a more potent foe, according to analysts. Attacks by the militants, which had largely focused on the military and security personnel, are increasingly killing civilians.

Last month, Al Qaeda bombings killed at least three dozen people, including schoolgirls and people celebrating the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday at a cultural center.

Muathe al-Sharaei, a witness to Wednesday’s bombing, said that hundreds of people had been lined up outside the police academy, including many who had camped out for days in search of coveted work. The police had used water cannons several days earlier in an attempt to disperse the applicants, fearing that, after another bombing elsewhere in the capital, the applicants were an easy target for attack, Mr. Sharaei said.

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