Somewhat sidelined after the Shi’ite Houthi rebels seized the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has launched a pair of high profile suicide bombings today in an attempt to return to relevance.
The larger of the two bombings hit the site of a planned Houthi rally in Tahrir Square, where people were just starting to arrive. At least 47 people have been confirmed killed, and 75 others wounded. All of the casualties were civilians, and four of the slain were children.
The second bombing took place at a Yemeni Army base in the port city of Mukalla, Hadramout Province, where a suicide car bomber was followed up by an attack by gunmen, killing 20 Yemeni soldiers and wounding 15 others. No reports of AQAP fighter casualties, apart from the suicide bomber himself, were reported.
Though they have never been a major player in Sanaa itself, AQAP has broad influence across tribal regions in the nation’s east, as well as much of the southern coast.
The Houthis, by contrast, have their power base in the northwest city of Sadaa, along the ill-defined Saudi border, and after recent fighting with Sunni Islamist factions have advanced into the capital itself.