More than 20 people were killed in Yemen on Wednesday morning when a suicide attacker detonated an explosive-laden minibus outside a police academy in the capital Sana'a, officials said.
Twenty-six died and dozens more were wounded in the attack, which targeted new recruits as they queued to enroll in the academy, the official SABA news agency said. An Associated Press report cited local officials as saying at least 30 had been killed, and described injured and dead lying in the street next to burnt out vehicles close to the academy gate, while an Agence France-Presse correspondent saw body parts and pieces of the minibus scattered around the blast site.
"What happened is we were all gathering and ... (the bomber) exploded right next to all of the police college classmates," Jamil al-Khaleedi, an eyewitness, told AP. "It went off among all of them, and they flew through the air."
There were later reports on social media that the death toll had risen further. Khaled al-Hammadi, the head of the Freedom Foundation, a Yemeni media rights group, cited a security source as saying 38 people had died and a further 50 wounded, though this could not be independently confirmed.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. However Yemen's al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and other al-Qaeda-affiliated insurgents in the country have launched a string of deadly suicide attacks against security forces since the toppling of longtime autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012.
The US has backed President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi's campaign against the Islamic extremists with frequent drone strikes.
However, Shia rebels, known as Houthis, overran Sana'a with little resistance from security forces in September and subsequently reached a peace deal with the political establishment stipulating the formation of a new government.
Authorities have so far made little attempt to dislodge the group, which has attempted to expand the areas under their control and clashed with local Sunni tribes and (AQAP), which has promised to defend Sunnis from the Houthis.
Dozens have been killed in the ensuing violence, raising fears that Yemen could become a failed state.
"Thanks to Houthi, al Qaeda and the failure and inability of President Hadi, Yemen is on its way to be like Iraq," Yemeni journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman said on Twitter in the wake of the attack.
The chaos in Yemen could extend beyond its borders, particularly into Saudi Arabia, whose Sunni leaders are anxiously monitoring the situation. The international community has been pushing for a diplomatic solution to the fighting as a result — so far without success.
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