SANA'A, YEMEN (BNO NEWS) -- At least 120 people were killed on Monday when a suicide bomber, reportedly wearing an army uniform, blew himself up during a military parade rehearsal in Yemen, the government said on Tuesday. Hundreds more were injured.
The attack occurred at the al-Sabeen square in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a when the attacker detonated an explosive belt near one of the battalions, although some reports suggest the bomber may have been lined up with the forces. It is one of the worst suicide bombings in Yemen's history.
At least 120 people were killed in the explosion, most of them from Yemen's Central Security Forces, according to medical sources from three different hospitals who spoke with the Yemen Post. In addition to the fatalities, around 350 others are believed to have been injured, many of them critically.
Following the attack, Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi dismissed three high-ranking officials, including the commander of the Central Security Forces, Abdul-Malik al-Taib, the commander of the Rescue Division, Mohammed Abdullah al-Qawsi, and the deputy commander of the National Security.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is based primarily in the tribal areas outside of the Yemeni capital city Sana'a, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group said it will carry out more attacks in the near future unless Yemeni security forces, backed by the United States, stop their campaign against militants in the region.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner strongly condemned the attack. "This cowardly attack highlights the lengths to which al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will go to wreak havoc in Yemen and beyond," Toner said, adding that the U.S. remains committed to a comprehensive strategy that emphasizes governance and economic development as well as counterterrorism efforts in Yemen.
Others also strongly condemned the attack, including United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Arab Summit chief Nabil al-Arabi, the chief of the Islamic Cooperation Council Akmal al-Deen Ihsan, and the Chief of the Gulf Cooperation Council Abdul-Atif al-Zayani.
"This criminal act cannot be justified by any cause," Ban's spokesperson said in a statement. "Its perpetrators must be held accountable. [..] The Secretary-General calls on all in Yemen to reject the use of violence in all its forms and manifestations, and expects them play a full and constructive role in implementing Yemen's political Transition Agreement, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2014 (2011)."
Yemen is currently undergoing a transition process after a popular uprising erupted in the country last year, similar to the protests seen in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Yemen held elections, including a presidential poll, in February, which resulted in the victory of Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour. In March, the UN Security Council called on Yemen to remain committed to its transition process and noted that the country had entered a second phase of transition which should focus, among other things, on restructuring its security forces and establishing an inclusive national dialogue.
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