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Dec 31, 2014 9:44 AM

Rebels say Yemen suicide bombing kills at least 24

The Associated Press

SANAA, Yemen (AP) A suicide bomber attacked a large gathering of Shiite rebels Wednesday in central Yemen preparing to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, killing at least 24 people and wounding 48, a rebel spokesman said.

Mohammed Abdel-Baki, the local spokesman for the Houthi rebels, said a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a culture center in the city of Ibb.

Footage shown on private satellite network Yemen Today showed bloody corpses filling corridors next to a stage, where celebrations for the Prophet Muhammad's birthday were taking place. Men heard in the background screaming, "Oh God!"

Abdel-Baki said the governor of Ibb province had been at the event, but wasn't wounded. The rebel spokesman said the head of the culture center was killed.

Abdel-Baki described the attack as a "massacre."

"The torn body parts are everywhere. Pools of blood mixed with water. The scene is horrifying," he said.

He said an initial report of a second bombing at the site was incorrect. Two other explosions rocked Ibb following the first attack, according to a statement by Houthis. It was not immediately clear if there were casualties in those two attacks.

Abdel-Baki said the local hospital in Ibb had 24 corpses from the attack. Yemen's Interior Ministry put the toll at 23 people killed and 48 wounded.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Yemen's powerful local al-Qaida affiliate has targeted the rebels in the past.

The Houthis seized large areas of Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa, earlier this year as part of a protracted power struggle with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Their critics view them as a proxy for Shiite Iran that wants to dominate the country, charges the rebels deny.

In a brief statement, Hadi vowed to chase the "terrorists" who carried out the attack, saying: "They will not escape prosecution."


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