7 Filipinos die in Yemen attack

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Friday, December 6, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- The Philippines condemned an al-Qaeda-style attack by a suicide car bomber and heavily armed gunmen at Yemen's Defense Ministry complex that killed 52 people, including seven Filipinos.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said Friday that 11 other Filipinos were slightly injured in Thursday's attack. The seven dead include a doctor and nurses.

The victims are among 40 Filipino workers in the hospital inside the complex, and 1,000 Filipinos in Yemen.

"We condemn this senseless and barbaric act and we call on the Yemeni Government to bring the masterminds to justice and to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of Filipinos and other foreigners in Yemen," Hernandez said.

He said the Philippines' honorary consul reported that the others survived by pretending to be dead.

Yemen attack
This photo provided by Yemen's Defense Ministry shows a crater and damaged vehicles after an explosion at the Defense Ministry complex in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP)

Officials said as many as 12 gunmen also were killed in a firefight between troops and a carload of attackers who arrived minutes after the early morning blast, apparently in a bid to take over the complex in downtown Sanaa, Yemen's capital.

Yemen's Defense Ministry issued a brief statement confirming Thursday's attack. It said "most" of the gunmen had been killed, but did not say how many there were or give any other details.

The brazen attack claimed by al-Qaida's local branch in Yemen, al-Mallahem, follows a rise in US drone strikes in the key American ally in the Middle East. The two-stage operation came as the defense minister was in Washington for talks.

The al-Mallahem claimed the attack early Friday morning on its Twitter account, saying it targeted the Defense Ministry building because it "accommodates drone control rooms and American experts." It said security headquarters used by the Americans in their war are "legitimate targets."

The incident was the deadliest attack in Sanaa since May 2012.

Also among the dead at the Defense Ministry complex, which also houses a military hospital, were soldiers and civilians, including two aid workers from Germany, two doctors from Vietnam, and a nurse from India, according to Yemen's Supreme Security Commission.

Al-Qaeda militants are concentered in the southern and eastern parts of Yemen, but they occasionally strike in the capital. They took advantage of the tenuous security prevailing in 2011 and 2012 during an uprising against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh by seizing territory in the south. The government has since recaptured al-Qaida-held areas. (AP/Sunnex)

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