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Bombings at Mosque in Yemen Kill at Least 25

SANA, Yemen — Bombings at a mosque killed at least 25 people here on Thursday during prayers to commemorate the beginning of Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim holiday, Interior Ministry officials said.

Tamim al-Shami, a spokesman for Yemen’s Health Ministry, said that the mosque, in the Al-Bilili neighborhood, was struck by two bombs, one hidden in a shoe and left at the entrance of the mosque, and another consisting of explosives detonated by a suicide bomber who attacked worshipers as they fled the initial blast.

A Yemeni-based affiliate of the Islamic State released a statement later on Thursday saying that one of its members had carried out the bombing. The group has claimed responsibility for a string of recent similar attacks on mosques in Sana, including one this month that killed at least 32 people.

The bombings by the Islamic State, a Sunni extremist group that is also known as ISIS or ISIL, have often been seen as efforts to incite a broader sectarian conflict with followers of the Houthis, the Shiite-led rebel movement that has controlled Sana for more than a year. Some of the mosques the group has attacked, including the one on Thursday, were frequented by Houthi supporters, though Yemen’s mosques are generally not segregated by sect.

The frequency of the attacks has also raised questions about how securely the Houthis control the capital, six months after a Saudi-led military coalition began an offensive to drive them from Sana and other cities. Coalition warplanes have been battering Sana with airstrikes for weeks now, in what is seen as a possible preparation for a ground invasion of the city by allied forces in a province east of the capital.

The war started in March after the Houthis drove Yemen’s president, Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, into exile in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, alongside a coalition of other Sunni Arab states, began the air offensive against the Houthis to restore Mr. Hadi and his government to power.

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(via NY Times)