|Yehya Mohamed Saleh, chief of staff of the central security forces, speaks to media in a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, May 21, 2012. Yehya Mohamed Saleh said that security forces and military will completely drive the terrorist group out of Yemen. A suicide bomber blew himself up amongst a battalion of soldiers on Monday in Yemen's capital Sanaa, killing some 90 people. Police officials said the suicide bomber detonated the explosives when the soldiers were rehearsing for an army parade in al-Sabeen square, a few meters northwest of the presidential palace. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)
SANAA, May 21 (Xinhua) -- The Yemeni defense ministry said late Monday that at least 90 soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing during a military rehearsal parade in Yemen's capital of Sanaa early in the morning, as the al-Qaida group entrenched in the unrest-ridden country claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, a spokesman of the terrorist group told Xinhua in an interview.
The death toll could further rise as more than 200 soldiers were wounded, some of them in critical condition, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website, adding that an investigation into the incident is underway.
"I just heard a huge explosion behind us while we were on standby, listening to a speech delivered by the defense minister," soldier Yahya Mohammed told Xinhua.
"At least 50 soldiers were killed at the scene while scores of others were seriously injured," he said.
"The attack revealed the scarcity of security measures to protect the soldiers, the capital and the parade ceremony," a security officer said.
Meanwhile, the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula ( AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack during a phone interview with Xinhua.
"One of our martyrs packing with powerful explosives under his military uniform blew himself up in the midst of a military parade rehearsal early Monday in al-Sabeen Square in Sanaa, which killed more than 100 soldiers and injured hundreds of others," the official spokesman of the group said.
"The sophisticated operation was designed to target Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed and the U.S. advisers who operate the war against our families in Abyan province in southern Yemen," the spokesman told Xinhua.
"It's our message that we will move the war into Sanaa if the U. S.-backed government insists to continue offensive against us in Abyan," he added.
"While our suicide bomber doing his job near the defense minister, we carried out another military operation in Abyan, during which we seized a military base in Bajidar area outside Abyan's capital city of Zinjibar early Monday," he said.
Abyan, some 480 km south of Sanaa, is the AQAP's main stronghold where the government troops and the terrorists have been fighting for months.
In response to the deadly attack, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour sacked two security commanders, who had close relations with ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Hadi also vowed to continue the war on terror despite sacrifices, hours after the deadly attack.
"The war on terror will continue until it is completely eradicated no matter what it takes," he said in a written speech aired by the state television on the eve of Yemen's national day of reunification.
He expressed deepest condolences for the victims of the terrorist bombing that targeted soldiers in Sanaa while practicing a military parade scheduled to be held on Tuesday, the 22nd anniversary of the country's reunification between the north and south Yemen.
Hadi said that the government and army will "continue the all- out offensive to defeat the enemies of the nation", referring to the al-Qaida terrorist network in southern the country.
Meanwhile, he also stressed the importance for all Yemeni political parties to engage in the upcoming national reconciliation dialogue, as part of the UN-backed deal that eased former President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power in February after one-year unrest.
Many Yemeni political parties, including the separatist movement in the south and the Houthi Shi'ite rebels in the north condemned the attack in statements posted on their websites.
Local residents in Sanaa expressed anger at the weak security measures, many of them spoke out their fears for the situation in the capital in the future.
Monday's attack came one day after the AQAP claimed responsibility for attacking a group of U.S. advisers in the country's western port city of al-Hodayda that left three seriously injured.