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Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Deadly Bomb Attack on Yemeni Mosque

The attack on Wednesday reportedly involved a suicide explosion within the mosque that was soon followed by a car bomb that hit medics as they worked outside the building.
La sangre se acumula en un piso del hospital cuando la gente se reúne en torno a un yemení herido en un triple ataque suicida en una mezquita en Sanaa. (Imagen por Yahya Arhab/EPA)

The branch of the so-called Islamic State (IS) terror group in Yemen has claimed responsibility for bombings at a mosque in the capital Sanaa that took place on Wednesday. Two blasts at the site reportedly killed at least 28 people and left 75 others wounded, according to reports from local media that are under the control of Shia Houthi rebels.

The attack on Wednesday reportedly involved a suicide explosion within the al-Mo'ayyad mosque that was soon followed by a car bomb that hit medics as they worked outside the building, the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency reported on Wednesday.


The mosque, which is also controlled by the Houthis, is one of various places of worship targeted by IS. The group's presence further complicates the country's bloody sectarian conflict. IS, which adheres to an ultra-radical reading of Sunni Islam, views the Houthis, who follow an offshoot of Shia Islam, as heretics and apostates, and has called on Yemen's Sunnis to wage holy war against them.

Related: The Rise of the Islamic State in Yemen

The Sunni insurgency is opposed to both sides of Yemen's ongoing civil war — the Houthis, who are allied with Iran, and the Yemeni government that they are trying to topple — which has seen the death of more than 4,500 people.

The Houthis seized control of Sanaa last September and subsequently reached a UN-sponsored peace deal with the political establishment stipulating the formation of a new national unity government and reforms in government agencies. The deal quickly unraveled, however, and by February the rebels had placed Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi under house arrest and had declared the formation of their own government.

Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia the following month and a regional coalition led by the Saudis intervened in the conflict, imposing a blockade and launching a campaign of airstrikes against Houthi installations. The United Nations has reported that Saudi-led bombing resulted in dozens of civilian deaths in Yemen over recent weeks.


The coalition campaign has helped pro-government forces recapture territory, including the southern port city of Aden, and advance toward Taiz in the southwest. Hadi's government remains in exile.

Related: Saudi Arabia Blamed for Friendly Fire Incidents and Civilian Deaths in Yemen

IS first announced its arrival in Yemen with a mosque attack in March that killed more than 130 people and injured more than 300. It has been waging its own campaign to seize and control vast stretches of land in Iraq and Syria since last summer, and is currently battling a US-led coalition that has been conducting airstrikes against IS targets.

The group's activities in Yemen potentially threatens other extremist militants operating in the region, particularly al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has been active in Yemen for some time.

Jabhat al-Nusra, the main al Qaeda-affiliated group in Syria, has spent almost as much time fighting IS, which split from al Qaeda in early 2014, as it has the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Hours before the mosque bombing on Wednesday, an unknown gunman fatally shot two Red Cross employees in the western central province of Amran in a separate incident. The attack was a rare display of violence towards aid workers in Yemen, the humanitarian aid agency said.

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Reuters contributed to this report.