A policeman, background, takes a picture of a damaged car with his cellphone at the scene of a car bombing in Sanaa, Yemen on January 7, 2015. (Associated Press)
A suicide bomber driving a minibus full of explosives killed at least 30 people today morning as cadets gathered to enroll at a police academy in the heart of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, security officials and witnesses said.
The blast wounded dozens of people, officials initially said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to brief journalists.
At the scene of the blast, the dead and wounded lay on a sidewalk against a wall. Water sprayed by firefighters to extinguish the blaze mixed with their pooled blood. A charred taxi cab smoked near what remained of the minibus, meters (yards) from a gate for the police academy.
A police officer's certificate sat in a pool of blood and water, soaked crimson. The bomber struck as lines of cadets waited outside of the academy, preparing to enroll, witnesses said.
"What happened is we were all gathering and ... (the bomber) exploded right next to all of the police college classmates," eyewitness Jamil al-Khaleedi told The Associated Press. "It went off among all of them, and they flew through the air."
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Yemen's local al-Qaeda branch, targeted in frequent US drone strikes in the country, has carried out similar attacks in the past. Washington considers al-Qaeda in Yemen to be the world's most dangerous branch of the terror network as it has been linked to several failed attacks on the US homeland.
The blast comes as Shiite rebels known as Houthis seized large areas of Yemen, including Sanaa, earlier this year as part of a protracted power struggle with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Their critics view them as a proxy for Shiite Iran, charges the rebels deny. Al-Qaeda militants have targeted the rebels in bombings in the past.
An al-Qaeda suicide bomber killed at least 24 people on December 31 in an attack on Houthis as they commemorated the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. The crowd at the academy today included both Houthi rebels and police cadets, witnesses said.