Al Qaeda-linked group claims Yemen attack on defense ministry | News | DW | 06.12.2013
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Al Qaeda-linked group claims Yemen attack on defense ministry

An al Qaeda-linked group has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Yemen's defense ministry. At least 52 people were killed in the capital on Thursday, with two Germans among the fatalities.

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Al-Qaida says it carried Yemen attack

Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) announced Friday it had carried out the attack in Yemen's capital Sanaa, saying the target hosted personnel behind the US drone program.

The defense ministry complex was "stormed and attacked on Thursday ... after the mujahedeen [holy fighters] proved that it accommodates drone control rooms and American experts," the group, an offshoot of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQIP), wrote on Twitter.

"As part of a policy to target drone control rooms, the mujahedeen have dealt a heavy blow to one," the group added.

Thursday's suicide car attack and subsequent attack by gunmen was the worst in the capital in 18 months. It claimed the lives of at least 52 people and injured 167, including soldiers, staff and civilians at a military clinic inside the complex. The ensuing gunbattle lasted for several hours.

Medics among those killed

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said two German aid workers and their Yemeni security guard were among those killed. The Germans worked for Germany's federal agency for international cooperation, the GIZ.

Germany has since announced that it has raised the security level for Yemen, and that the embassy was being run in "emergency mode with reduced personnel," and security measures had been enhanced. All state development workers were being recalled from the country, a spokesman for Germany's foreign ministry said on Friday.

A spokesman for Germany's Development Ministry said that between ten and 15 employees of the GIZ and the government-owned development bank KfW were affected, and would leave Yemen in the coming days and weeks.

Westerwelle condemned the attack, describing it as "cowardly" and demanded an immediate investigation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is "extremely shocked" by the deaths of the two German doctors, government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference.

She and the government "condemn the terrorist attack in the strongest terms," he said.

Vietnamese, Indian and Filipino nationals were also reportedly among the dead.

The news agency Reuters said a relative of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu was also killed.

Over the past two years, Yemen has grappled with al Qaeda-linked militants who repeatedly attack government offices and installations.

bk/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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