Car bomb kills 25 soldiers in Yemen after new president sworn in
There are a lot of hands raised against the new government headed by Ali Abdullah Saleh's long time Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. A car bomb exploded outside a presidential compound in south Yemen, killing 25, underscoring the challenges facing Hadi as he tries to bring his fractured country together.
No group asserted responsibility for Saturday's attack, which took place in the city of Mukalla in Hadramout province. But Yemeni security officials said it bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda's affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which U.S. officials consider one of the biggest threats to the United States.
The Associated Press quoted a witness as saying that a pickup truck approached the gate of the presidential compound and exploded as soldiers were coming out, suggesting that it was a suicide attack. The explosion was followed by heavy gunfire from the surviving soldiers.
Southern Yemen has long been a cauldron of animosity toward Yemen's weak central government. Radical Islamists linked to al-Qaeda have taken over large swaths of territory, taking advantage of the political turmoil over the past year, as a populist uprising sough the end of Saleh's rule. Southern secessionists are angry that Hadi's new unity government has not addressed their grievances.
In his speech, Hadi vowed to return thousands of Yemenis displaced by conflict to their homes. "One of the most prominent tasks is the continuation of war against al-Qaeda as a religious and national duty, and to bring back displaced people to their villages and towns," he said.
Blaming AQAP for the blast is political theater. It would be convenient if the AQ affiliate was responsible rather than a faction in the army loyal to Saleh, or separatists in southern Yemen, or Houthi rebels from the north, or some other political faction that wants to see Hadi fail.
Suffice it to say Hadi has his hands full and is burdened with the seemingly impossible job of uniting a country that has been in an almost constant state of civil war since 1990.