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Yemen blast blamed on AQAP affiliate, U.S. offers condolences, support

Yemen's President Hadi

As the government of Yemen blamed an affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) for the May 21 suicide bomb attack at a military ceremony that killed more than 100 soldiers, White House counterterrorism officials condemned the violence and vowed to stand by the country’s government.

The blast on May 21, that also injured as many as 200, happened at preparations for a parade to be held during National Day of Unification ceremonies in Sana’a on May 22. The holiday celebrates the 1990 unification of the formerly separate countries of north and south Yemen into the singular country of Yemen. The attack has been called the deadliest ever on Yemeni troops.

The attack comes only weeks after intelligence agents foiled a new AQAP-sponsored bomb plot aimed at aircraft coming to the U.S. President Obama, attending a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Chicago on May 21, told reporters there that he is “very concerned about Al-Qaeda and extremist activity in Yemen,” adding the country’s poverty and political instability has attracted terrorists. "We're going to continue to work with the Yemeni government to try to identify AQAP leadership and operations and try to thwart them," he said..

The planned May 22 parade in Yemen went on in spite of the bombing and in an address to the crowd gathered for the event, reports said the country’s military chief of staff Ahmed al-Ashwal blamed the attack on Ansaar al-Shari, an AQAP affiliate. "We assure to you ... that we are at the outskirts of our final battle, God willing, in our fight with what is known as Ansaar al-Sharia so we can restore peace and security to every part of our dear nation," he said.

On May 21, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan called Yemeni President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi to convey President Obama’s condolences for the attack, calling it “cowardly” and “brutal.”

The White House said. Brennan strongly condemned the despicable violence that struck as Yemen’s military forces were preparing to celebrate their country’s unity on Yemen’s National Day.  It also said he offered U.S. assistance in the investigation into incident and said the U.S. would stand by Yemen during a difficult time.

President Hadi, said the White House, also thanked the U.S. for its support and vowed to continue his nation’s fight against Al Qaeda Brennan and President Hadi reaffirmed the partnership between Yemen and the U.S. and Hadi pledged not to let terrorist acts interfere with the country’s peaceful political transition.



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