AL-QA'IDA opened a new front in its war in Yemen over the weekend when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a military parade ground in the capital Sana'a, killing 96 soldiers.
A statement from Ansar al-Sharia, a Yemeni group affiliated with al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula, claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened during a rehearsal for a National Unity Day parade.
It said it was a response to the security forces' "crimes" -- an apparent reference to the all-out assault by government troops in recent days to check al-Qa'ida's advances in a vicious civil war in the south of the country.
There had been rumours for some days that an attack was imminent. One analyst said an incident in Sana'a, which until now has been spared the worst of the violence, was "inevitable".
"The government is attacking a hornets' nest -- eventually, one of the hornets will retaliate and sting," he said.
The soldiers were lined up for the parade rehearsal in Sabaeen Square in the centre of the city, near the presidential palace, when one of them triggered an explosive device.
Some of those at the scene said he was a member of the Central Security Force, a paramilitary group whose chief of staff is Yahya Saleh, nephew of the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down overArab Spring protests.
However, military uniforms are easily available in the city and it is possible he was an infiltrator.
Witnesses said the explosion left clothes, blood and body parts strewn across the parade ground. (© Daily Telegraph, London)