Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—The double suicide attack on the Yemeni Defense Ministry in the heart of Sana’a was targeted at President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Yemeni presidential spokesman has informed Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Yemeni presidential spokesman Yahia Al-Arasi said that the attack targeted the president, adding that one of the Hadi’s close relatives was killed while receiving treatment in an adjoining hospital.
At least 52 doctors and nurses were killed and 167 injured in an attack on the defense ministry complex in Sana’a on Thursday. Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack on Friday.
A preliminary report submitted by Yemen’s Supreme Security Committee revealed that most of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated gunmen who carried out Thursday’s attack were Saudi nationals.
“There are estimated to have been 12 terrorists, and most of them were Saudi nationals. The [investigation] committee is still working on acquiring more information about the terrorists and their goals,” the report said.
The report also indicated that explosives used in the attack matched explosives seized by Yemeni authorities from Iranian ships.
Arasi denied AQAP claims that the complex was being used by US military forces as an operating center for unmanned drones.
“This disgusting terrorist operation is inhumane and amoral,” Arasi said, adding that the details of the attack—including reported intelligence about the president’s movements—indicates that AQAP has infiltrated state security apparatus.
“The least that can be said is that there are other dimensions [to the attack]. What interest does Al-Qaeda have in killing children and women in a holy place such as a hospital, where drivers are banned from blowing their car horns, let alone blowing cars up,” he asked.
Arasi confirmed that Hadi met with security and military commanders at the complex while clashes were ongoing, adding that this meeting led to the failure of the terrorist operation.
“Six of those who plotted and carried out the attack were arrested and another six were killed,” he said.
The committee investigating the attack, chaired by Yemen’s Chief of Staff Gen. Ahmed Al-Ashwal, concluded that militants killed the guards outside the gates of the military hospital, allowing a suicide bomber to drive a car bomb inside, but the subsequent gunfight forced him to detonate the bomb before reaching his target.
The committee report was later read out on Yemeni state TV and included a number of amendments to information reported about the attack, including raising the death toll to 56.