A suicide bomber attacked a crowd of protesters here in the capital on Thursday, killing at least 47 people and adding to fear that Sunni extremists were mobilizing new attacks against a Shiite rebel group that took control of Sana last month.
The bomber’s target appeared to be supporters of the rebel group, the Houthis, who were preparing for a march near the city’s Tahrir Square. Video that purported to depict the attack showed groups of people strolling or preparing banners before the explosion. Medics said that dozens of people were wounded and that several children were among the dead. Witnesses described the scene as gruesome.
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Whirlwind Ascent of Houthi Rebels in Yemen Brings Relief and TrepidationOCT. 8, 2014
It was the deadliest militant attack in Sana since late September, when the Houthis took over ministries and other important installations to demand the removal of the government and other changes. The Houthis signed a power-sharing deal that seemed momentarily to quiet the crisis in the capital, but many have been bracing for retaliatory attacks by Sunni militants, including groups linked to Al Qaeda, who are angered by the Houthis’ recent gains.
Separately on Wednesday morning, a bomber rammed a car into a security post in the southern Yemeni city of Mukalla, killing at least 20 soldiers, according to security officials. It was the second day of deadly militant attacks in Yemen: On Wednesday, at least 29 people were killed during attacks on government offices and security posts.
The Houthis’ supporters are hoping that the rebels may be able to refresh Yemen’s atrophying politics by creating pressure, for instance, for a more inclusive government. At the same time, though, their move on the capital has raised fears of new instability and intensifying violence if the Houthis and their enemies focus on settling old scores.
As the bombings deepened a sense of crisis, the Houthis and Yemen’s president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, sparred over the formation of the government. The Houthis organized the march on Thursday to protest Mr. Hadi’s choice for prime minister, saying that the nominee, a close ally of Mr. Hadi’s, had not been previously agreed upon. The official news agency reported Thursday that the nominee, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, had withdrawn.