Sanaa: Al-Qaeda claimed Saturday it killed dozens of Shiite rebels in Yemen and tried to assassinate the US ambassador, as the rebels rejected a new government announced for the strife-torn country.
The cabinet was formed Friday shortly before the UN Security Council slapped sanctions against influential former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and two rebel commanders for threatening peace.
In apparent retaliation on Saturday, Saleh`s General People`s Congress party sacked from its leadership Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, following accusations he solicited the sanctions.
And the Huthi rebels rejected the new government welcomed by Washington, instead demanding a reshuffle to dismiss ministers they consider unqualified or corrupt.
Yemen has been dogged by instability since an Arab Spring-inspired uprising forced Saleh from power in February 2012, and the rebels and Al-Qaeda have sought to fill the power vacuum.
Al-Qaeda claimed twin attacks early Saturday that it said killed "dozens" of Huthis in the central region of Rada, where the Sunni Muslim jihadists have halted a rapid territorial advance by their Shiite rivals.
The turmoil has raised fears that the Arabian Peninsula nation, which neighbours oil-flush Saudi Arabia and lies on the key shipping route from the Suez Canal to the Gulf, may become a failed state.Al-Qaeda also said it had tried to kill US ambassador Matthew Tueller, but the two bombs were detected "minutes before their detonation".
The devices were planted Thursday outside Hadi`s residence, the media arm of Al-Qaeda`s Yemen branch said in a statement on Twitter.
There was no official confirmation of the failed plot.
Washington, which sees Hadi as a key ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda, welcomed the launch of the new 36-member cabinet.
"This multi-party cabinet must represent the strength of Yemeni unity over individual and partisan interests that may seek to derail the goals of a nation," US National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.
The new government was formed as part of a UN-brokered peace deal under which the Huthis are supposed to withdraw from the capital Sanaa, which they seized on September 21.
Though the rebels, also known as Ansarullah, are not directly represented in the new government, six of the new cabinet`s members are considered close to the insurgents.
Despite this, the rebels issued a statement Saturday saying the new government "is in violation of the peace agreement... and a clear obstruction to the political process in favour of private and narrow interests".
They said the cabinet should be reshuffled to "remove those not meeting the criteria" spelled out in the September 21 peace accord.
Such criteria, they said, include "qualifications, integrity and neutrality in managing the country".
On November 1, the main parties signed an agreement brokered by UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar for the formation of a government of technocrats.
Under the accord, rebel representatives and their rivals, the Sunni Al-Islah (Reform) Islamic party, mandated Hadi to form a government and committed to support it.
Benomar warned in an interview with AFP that without the rapid formation of a government, tensions between Shiites and Sunnis were likely to increase, sinking the country deeper into crisis.Al-Qaeda said Saturday it had launched two attacks against Huthi posts in Rada.
"Dozens of Huthis were killed and wounded," it said, when a militant rammed his explosives-laden car into a medical centre converted by Huthis into a barracks, in the Manaseh region.
It was not immediately possible to verify the report.
In another attack, Al-Qaeda militants fired on a rebel-occupied school in Jarrah valley, also near Rada, tribal sources and the jihadist group said.
An Al-Qaeda statement posted online said four jihadists stormed the building.
On Friday, the UN Security Council slapped a US-proposed visa ban and assets freeze on Saleh and two allied Shiite rebel commanders for threatening peace in the impoverished country.
The Huthis are widely thought to be backed by Saleh.
Washington said Saleh "was behind the attempts to cause chaos throughout Yemen" by using the Huthis to weaken the government and "create enough instability to stage a coup".
The top UN body in August called on the Huthis to end their uprising and warned of sanctions against those who threaten Yemen`s stability.