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Death toll in Yemen's suicide bombing rises to 90, al- Qaida claims responsibility

(Xinhua)

08:11, May 22, 2012

SANAA, May 21 (Xinhua) -- The Yemeni defense ministry said late Monday that at least 90 soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing during a military rehearsal parade in Yemen's capital of Sanaa early in the morning, as the al-Qaida group entrenched in the unrest-ridden country claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, a spokesman of the terrorist group told Xinhua in an interview.

The death toll could further rise as more than 200 soldiers were wounded, some of them in critical condition, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website, adding that an investigation into the incident is underway.

"I just heard a huge explosion behind us while we were on standby, listening to a speech delivered by the defense minister," soldier Yahya Mohammed told Xinhua.

"At least 50 soldiers were killed at the scene while scores of others were seriously injured," he said.

"The attack revealed the scarcity of security measures to protect the soldiers, the capital and the parade ceremony," a security officer said.

Meanwhile, the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula ( AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack during a phone interview with Xinhua.

"One of our martyrs packing with powerful explosives under his military uniform blew himself up in the midst of a military parade rehearsal early Monday in al-Sabeen Square in Sanaa, which killed more than 100 soldiers and injured hundreds of others," the official spokesman of the group said.

"The sophisticated operation was designed to target Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed and the U.S. advisers who operate the war against our families in Abyan province in southern Yemen," the spokesman told Xinhua.

"It's our message that we will move the war into Sanaa if the U. S.-backed government insists to continue offensive against us in Abyan," he added.

"While our suicide bomber doing his job near the defense minister, we carried out another military operation in Abyan, during which we seized a military base in Bajidar area outside Abyan's capital city of Zinjibar early Monday," he said.

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