SANA, Yemen — A suicide bomber and a subsequent car bomb killed at least 20 people on Wednesday at a mosque here in Yemen’s rebel-held capital amid the country’s raging civil war, officials said.
The suicide bomber struck inside the mosque in Sana during the evening call to prayers, while the car bomb exploded outside an entrance, the authorities said. Medical officials said that wounded people were undergoing surgery at several hospitals and that the death toll could rise.
Witnesses said the car bomb detonated while people were carrying out the wounded from the mosque, which is frequented by both Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though an affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group has carried out similar bombings in Sana this year.
Earlier Wednesday, gunmen fatally shot two Yemenis working for the International Committee of the Red Cross as they were traveling from Saada Province in the north to Sana, the group said.
Rima Kamal, a Red Cross spokeswoman in Sana, said the two were killed in Amran Province.
Yemen has been mired in violence since Houthi rebels swept down from their stronghold in Saada and captured Sana last September. Both Amran and Saada Provinces are fully controlled by the Houthis, who are Shiite.
The Houthis are fighting alongside army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against forces loyal to the exiled President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi as well as southern separatists and local militias. A Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States has been carrying out airstrikes against the rebels since March.
The conflict has killed over 2,100 civilians, according to the United Nations.
Saudi Arabia’s civil defense authorities said Tuesday that seven people were wounded when a missile fired from Yemen struck three vehicles across the border in the village of Tuwal, in Jizan Province.
Last month in Yemen, pro-government forces, backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, drove the rebels out of the southern port city of Aden after heavy fighting.
Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday in a report that both sides had committed serious abuses against civilians and fighters in their custody during fighting there, with southern militants killing at least seven Houthi prisoners since March.
“Southern forces that have regained control of Aden should end abuses against prisoners and do all they can to establish law and order in the city,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch. “The Houthis need to release anyone wrongfully detained and account for everyone they are holding.”
In another development, on Wednesday, the United Nations said it had reached agreement with Yemen’s government and the Saudi-led military coalition on increasing the flow of badly needed goods like food and fuel to the country.
Yemen is on the brink of famine, and even before it was engulfed in conflict it was the Arab world’s poorest country and relied on imports for about 90 percent of its supplies.
The United Nation’s regional humanitarian coordinator for the Yemen crisis, Amer Daoudi, confirmed through a spokeswoman that an agreement was reached on a mechanism to verify and inspect shipments of both aid and commercial goods. Because of funding and other issues, it was not yet clear when the mechanism, to be set up in Aden, would start operating.
Four out of five Yemenis need humanitarian assistance, the United Nations says, with one in five needing it urgently.
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(via NY Times)