10 die in suicide attack on mosque in Yemen

A member of the Houthi militia at the al-Balili mosque just outside Sanaa. The mosque was the target of a twin suicide bombing yesterday.
A member of the Houthi militia at the al-Balili mosque just outside Sanaa. The mosque was the target of a twin suicide bombing yesterday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

ISIS branch claims responsibility for double bombing on Muslim day of worship

SANAA • Yemen's branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group claimed responsibility yesterday for a double suicide bombing that killed at least 10 people at a mosque, where worshippers were performing Muslim Eid al-Adha prayers.

The branch said the attack at al-Balili mosque, just outside the Old City of Sanaa and run by Yemen's Houthis group, had killed or wounded dozens of "rejectionists". The Sunni militants use that term to describe Shi'ite Muslims they deem as heretics.

Medics said at least 36 other people were wounded. A Houthi website gave a death toll of at least 10, while Arab media said that it was at least 25.

The Houthis, allies of Iran, seized Sanaa a year ago and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile in Saudi Arabia. Since March, the Western-allied Saudis have led an Arab coalition trying to restore Mr Hadi to power and drive the Houthis back to their northern stronghold. More than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict, which ISIS has exploited to expand its operations.

Witnesses described a twin suicide attack on the mosque, where worshippers were celebrating Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice.

One of them, a man named Mr Nayef, who lives nearby, said he heard one blast followed quickly by a second. "We gathered to rescue the wounded. The situation is very painful and blood is everywhere."

Witnesses said the first blast shook the mosque soon after worshippers gathered for Eid prayers. A second suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt when Houthi guards tried to stop him from rushing deep inside the mosque.

It was the second attack in the capital this month to target a mosque run by the Shi'ite Zaydi group - a branch of Shi'ite Islam that the militant group considers to be heretical. On Sept 2, at least 28 people were killed and 75 wounded in twin suicide bombings claimed by ISIS at a mosque in northern Sanaa.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2015, with the headline '10 die in suicide attack on mosque in Yemen'. Print Edition | Subscribe