SANAA, Yemen — A suicide bomber blew himself up at a military parade rehearsal Monday in Yemen's capital,killing 96 soldiers in one of the deadliest attacks in the city in years, officials said. The bombing appeared to be a failed assassination attempt against the Minister of Defense, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, who arrived at the heavily secured city square to greet the assembled troops just minutes before the blast ripped through the area.
Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, but it came as the country's new political leadership has been stepping up the fight against al-Qaida militants holding large swaths of land in the nation's south. Yemen's new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, also has been embroiled in a power struggle with loyalists of ousted leader Ali Abdullah Saleh. He has sacked several of them along with family members from top positions in the armed forces, including the air force. The suicide bombing raised fears that al-Qaida in Yemen, which has been blamed in a string of attempted attacks on U.S. targets, is striking back against the U.S.-backed offensive targeting the group's stronghold.