Many dead in Yemen car bombing

An explosion said to be from a car bomb killed at least 17 people in the far north of Yemen on Wednesday, according to numerousreports.

The bomb targeted a procession of Houthi supporters celebrating the Eid al-Ghadir holiday (a Shia festival) in the Zaher district of al-Jawf province. A local tribal leader, Hussein bin Ahmed bin Hadhban, and his son are reportedly among the dead.

The fact that Sunni Muslims of the Salafi persuasion disapprove of Eid al-Ghadir could point to a motive, and some reports suggest al-Qaeda may have been responsible (though it may be wise to keep 
an open mind on that until more is known).

Citing an tribal leader who asked not to be identified, Yemeni journalist Nasser Arrabyee writes in his blog that the attack was a reprisal by al-Qaeda after five of its members were captured by the Houthis and eventually handed over to the Yemeni authorities:

The tribal leader said, last August Al Houthi rebels had arrested five Al Qaeda suspects including Ali Hussein Abdullah Al Tais, originally from Sa’ada, who was released from Guantanamo ...

"They were handed first to leader of Al Houthis in Zaher area (Al Jawf), Abu Saleh, who handed them to the government," the tribal leader said over phone from al-Matoon, the area where suicide bombing took place this morning.

Arrabyee also quotes some recent statements from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) condemning the Houthis as agents of Iran and the enemies of Muslims.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 25 November 2010