At least 142 people were killed yesterday in suspected Isil triple suicide bombings that targeted mosques attended by Shia Huthi militiamen in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has claimed responsibility for the attacks on two mosques used mainly by Shia Muslims in Yemen, a statement on Twitter showed.
In an online statement, the previously unknown Sanaa branch of Isil warned that the bombings were "just the tip of the iceberg".
"Infidel Huthis should know that the soldiers of the Islamic State will not rest until they eradicate them... and cut off the arm of the Safavid (Iranian) plan in Yemen," the statement from the Sunni Muslim extremist group said.
One bomb exploded inside Badr mosque in southern Sanaa, and was followed by another at the gate as worshippers fled, witnesses said.
In the Badr mosque, the first bomber was caught by guards searching worshippers at the gate, where he detonated his device. In the ensuing panic, a second bomber entered the mosque and blew himself up amid the crowd, according to the official news agency SABA.
"I fell on the ground and when I regained consciousness I found myself lying in a lake of blood," one survivor, Ahmed al-Gabri, said. Two worshippers next to him were killed in the explosions, then another died when one of the mosque's large glass chandeliers fell on him, al-Gabri said.
Another survivor, Sadek al-Harithi, said the explosions were like "an earthquake where I felt the ground split and swallow everyone."
In the al-Hashoosh mosque, one witness said he was thrown two meters away by one of the blasts and found the floor strewn with body parts.
The third suicide bomber targeted Al-Hashahush mosque in northern Sanaa.
The Huthi militia's Al-Massira television said hospitals in the capital had made urgent appeals for blood donations.
The Huthis overran Sanaa in September and have since tightened their grip on power.
Their attempts to extend their control into other areas have been met by deadly resistance from Sunni tribes and Al-Qa'ida.
On Thursday forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's former president who is allied with the Huthis, stormed the international airport in Aden and sent fighter planes to bomb the palace in the southern port city where the president is based.
President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is backed by the UN and the Gulf states, fled from the rebel-held capital last month. Troops fended off the airport attack, the airstrikes missed the palace and Mr Hadi was in a safe place, Aden's governor Abdel-Aziz bin Habtour said. The mosques in Sanaa are known to be used mainly by supporters of the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group, which controls most of northern Yemen, including Sanaa.
A third suicide bomber tried to blow himself up a mosque in the northern Houthi stronghold of Sadaa province. But the bomb went off prematurely, killing only the bomber. Isil claimed responsibility for that attack too, vowing to carry out more assaults on the Houthis. "God willing, this operation is only a part of a coming flood," the group said in a statement posted by supporters on Twitter.
Yemen is torn by a power struggle between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the north and Hadi, who has set up a rival power base in the south backed by Sunni-led Gulf Arab states. (© Daily Telegraph London)