Sana`a: A suicide bomber killed at least 96 soldiers during a rehearsal for a military parade in Yemen`s capital city of Sana`a, a report said on Monday.
The bomber was dressed in a military uniform. He blew himself up in the middle of the battalion that was rehearsing for an Army parade marking the 22nd anniversary of the unification of north and south Yemen.
Officials however put the death toll at 63.
Earlier, police officials said that at least 50 soldiers were killed in al-Sabeen square, a few meters northwest of the presidential palace.
The parade was scheduled for Tuesday to mark Yemen`s 22nd anniversary of reunification.
Officials said the attack bore the hallmark of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen`s resurgent terrorist off-shoot.
The explosion occurred when Yemen`s Defence Minister and chief of staff of the Army arrived at the square. They, however, survived the suicide bombing.
The injured have been taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, according to the police.
Witnesses said human remains were scattered across the explosion site and policemen have cordoned off the scene.
According to sources from the Defence Ministry, the ministry received intelligence last week that unidentified militants were planning to carry out suicide car bombing attack in Sana’a.
Monday`s attack is most deadly one since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took over power in February. He pledged that large-scale attacks will continue to strike al Qaeda bastions "until we have eradicated their presence in every village”.
It also comes 10 days into a massive army offensive against al Qaeda in Yemen`s restive southern Abyan province, where the jihadists have seized control of a string of towns and cities in attacks launched since last May.
With the support of the US experts and drones, the Yemeni government has launched an "all-out offensive" against al Qaeda militants for nine days in the southern province of Abyan.
The ongoing fighting has left more than two hundred people from both sides killed, while thousands of civilians have fled to neighbouring provinces of Aden and Lahj.
(With Agencies’ inputs)