By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2012 – A suicide bombing in Yemen’s capital of Sana yesterday that killed or injured more than 100 Yemeni soldiers bears all the hallmarks of having been planned and carried out by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, George Little, Pentagon press secretary, said today.
“We condemn this kind of violence,” Little told reporters. “It obviously resulted in serious loss of life and injury, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families.”
Little said the bomb was set off in a crowded area, apparently during a rehearsal for military commemorations.
Asked if the device used -- reported to be a suicide vest -- was a new kind of bomb, Little replied, “There was enough ordnance attached to the device that it resulted in serious loss of life. I'm not sure that we can draw any conclusions more broadly about where terrorists might go in terms of their bomb-making and bomb attacks in Yemen or anywhere else based on this one event.”
Little said U.S. military trainers in Yemen support the Yemeni government’s efforts to pursue terrorists in their own country. The Defense Department’s focus there is to train, advise and assist Yemeni forces and deepen the two nations’ counterterrorism cooperation, he said.
“We have a very strong military relationship with Yemen,” he added. “That relationship is focused in large part on jointly addressing the counterterrorism threat posed by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.”
The group, known as AQAP, continues to plot against the United States, Yemen and other nations, Little said. “We just need to stay vigilant, and we'll do that with our partners,” he added.
A White House statement released yesterday said John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, called Yemeni President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi to convey President Barack Obama’s deep condolences for the attack that “brutally killed and injured more than 100 Yemeni soldiers.”
Brennan “condemned the despicable violence that struck as Yemen’s military forces were preparing to celebrate their country’s unity on Yemen’s National Day,” the statement continued.
Brennan and Hadi “reaffirmed the unshakable partnership between Yemen and the United States, and President Hadi pledged not to let terrorist acts interfere with Yemen’s peaceful political transition,” the statement said.