Yemen, US vow to crush Qaeda after troops massacred

Yemen, US vow to crush Qaeda after troops massacred

Yemen's President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi backed by his US counterpart Barack Obama vowed to fight ''terrorism'' after a suicide bomber killed 96 soldiers in retaliation for an army offencive against Al-Qaeda.

Yesterday's attack in the heart of the capital Sanaa, in which about 300 soldiers were injured, came as soldiers were rehearsing for a parade to mark the reunification of Yemen.

An official said the parade, which had been scheduled to take place today at Sabeen Square -- scene of the suicide blast -- had been replaced with a "symbolic" ceremony held at the Defence and Aviation college in Sanaa.

The ceremony was attended by Hadi, who made no speech and left soon after the event ended.

Army chief of staff Ali al-Ashwal vowed the military would not be deterred from its offencive against the jihadists.

"The barbaric attack on Sabeen Square will not scare us and will not prevent us from going ahead with out war on these evil elements," he told the ceremony.

"Our war on them will not stop until we free our land," said Ashwal, who was among the officials, including defence minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, apparently targeted in the attack.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the name given to the group's Yemen branch, claimed responsibility for the attack which it said targeted "the defence minister and other leaders of the US war on our people in Abyan" province in the south.

"Even if the defence minister and his aides escaped this operation, we will not tire...we are in a war to defend our blood which is violated in Abyan, and war only breeds war," it said in a statement posted on jihadist Internet forums.

Police Colonel Abdul Hamid Bajjash, the officer in charge of security at the blast site, said Yemen's defence minister was present at the time of the explosion but escaped unharmed.

He said the bomber detonated his explosives as soldiers from the government's central security forces, commanded by a nephew of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, rehearsed for today scheduled army parade to mark the 22nd anniversary of the unification of north and south Yemen.

Yemen's military launched a major offencive in Abyan on May 12 in a bid to drive Al-Qaeda linked jihadists out of towns and cities in the restive province where they have held sway since May last year.

"The war on terror will continue until it is completely destroyed regardless of the sacrifices," Yemen's president, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, said in a statement carried by state news agency Saba after yesterday's massive attack, the deadliest since he took power in February.

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