Car bombs in Yemen’s capital struck targets including the home of a leading Shiite Houthi rebel and mosques frequented by supporters of the movement in attacks purportedly claimed by Islamic State militants.
More than 30 people were killed in Wednesday’s explosions, the BBC reported. Television footage showed charred cars and large blood stains on the streets.
Radical Islamist militants are taking advantage of Yemen’s turmoil to expand their influence as Saudi Arabia leads a bombing campaign against the Houthis to restore the rule of President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi, who fled to Riyadh this year. Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch said this week it was fighting the Houthis and their allies on 11 fronts across the country. The rebels accuse Saudi Arabia, which is battling Islamic State at home and in Syria, or being behind the wave of violence.
“What wasn’t achieved by airstrikes and banned rockets won’t be achieved by car bombs,” Yehia Al-Qahoom, a Houthi official, said on Twitter.
The rebels and representative from Hadi’s government are holding talks in Geneva sponsored by the United Nations. Riad Yassin, Hadi’s foreign minister, said he doesn’t expect a breakthrough.
“I am not optimistic,” he said in televised remarks. “Their actions on the ground, the killing of innocent people, and their actions and words here don’t reflect good intentions,” he said, referring to the Houthis.
The Shiite group seized control of Sana’a in September and drove Yemen’s internationally recognized government from the country this year. The kingdom say the rebels are a tool of Iran, a charge the rebels deny.
In an online statement attributed to Islamic State, the al-Qaeda breakaway group said the attacks were carried out by its “Sana’a branch.” In March, suicide bombs claimed by Islamic State at mosques in Sana’a killed about 140 people.