On Friday afternoon the al-Badr and al-Hashush mosques in Yemen's capital were hit by coordinated suicide attacks, apparently involving a pair of attackers at each location. By the end of the day, authorities had counted 137 people killed, and more than twice that number wounded in the blasts. The mosques in question appear to have been targeted because of their association with pro-Ansar Allah figures. This article in the New York Times--which features reporting by two excellent Yemeni journalists, Saeed al-Batati and our own contributor Mohammed Ali Kalfood--does a good job of contextualizing the attacks. As with a lot of the coverage of what's going on in Yemen today, however, I take issue with the piece's assumptions about sectarian conflict. In Yemen, and especially in San'a, things are not so simple as "Sunni vs. Shi'i," and I urge readers not to assume that such descriptors accurately reflect the local reality. We'll return to that topic in future posts.
Late on Friday, a group identifying itself as the Islamic State in San'a Province claimed credit for the attack. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula issued a statement denying any connection to the attack.
Funerals were held on Saturday for many of the victims. Our hearts and thoughts are with their families and friends.