Scores killed in suicide attacks at Sanaa mosques

People react after being injured in bomb attack inside a mosque in Sanaa March 20, 2015.

At least 142 people were killed and 351 were wounded when suicide bombers blew themselves up at two mosques attended by Shiite worshipers in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, medical sources said.

Health ministry official Nashwan al-Atab was quoted by AFP as saying that an earlier toll surged following information gathered from various hospitals in Sanaa.

The rebel-owned television channel said 137 were killed and 345 were wounded.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) issued a statement claiming responsibility for the suicide bomb attacks.

The attacks, in which four bombers wearing explosive belts targeted worshippers in and outside the crowded mosques, happened a day after an unidentified warplane attacked the presidential palace in the southern city of Aden.

Anti-aircraft guns opened fire on planes flying high over the presidential compound in Aden on Friday, government sources and witnesses said.

Saudi Arabia condemned the attacks on Sanaa mosques as well as the recent air strikes on the presidential compound in the southern city of Ade.

The Saudi Press Agency quoted an official source as saying: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, with deep concern, followed up the latest painful developments in brethren Yemen, citing an airstrike that targeted Aden city, the Presidential Palace, and surrounding areas yesterday as well as today's bombings, that took place, in Sanaa.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the “terrorist attacks” on the Yemeni mosques.

In a statement from his spokesman Farhan Haq, Ban called on all sides to end hostilities and exercise restraint.

“All sides must abide by their stated commitments to resolve differences by peaceful means, and should engage in good faith in the ongoing UN-facilitated negotiations in order to reach a consensus agreement,” the statement read.

Yemen is torn by a power struggle between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the north and the U.N.-recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has set up a rival seat in the south with the backing of Sunni-led Gulf Arab states.

The mosques in Sanaa are known to be used mainly by supporters of the Houthi group, which controls most of northern Yemen.

The rise to power of the Houthis since September last year has deepened divisions in Yemen's complex web of political and religious allegiances, and left the country increasingly cut off from the outside world.

One witness said he heard two successive blasts at one of the mosques, known as the Badr mosque, in a busy neighborhood in central Sanaa.

“I was going to pray at the mosque then I heard the first explosion, and a second later I heard another one,” the witness told Reuters.

Hospitals in Sanaa appealed for blood donors to help treat the large number of casualties. A Reuters witness at the scene of the Badr mosque said he counted at least 25 bloody bodies or corpses lying in the street and inside the mosque building.

[With AFP and Reuters]

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Last Update: 21:31 KSA 00:31 - GMT 21:31
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