SANAA (Reuters) - Five roadside bombs targeting Shi‘ite Muslim Houthi fighters exploded in the Yemeni capital Sanaa early on Monday, wounding several people, the ministry of defense website said.
The Houthis’ Ansarullah movement, which has links to Shi‘ite Iran, has become the main political force in Yemen since it captured Sanaa in September and then pushed into the country’s Sunni Muslim heartland south and west of the capital.
The bombs targeted Houthi checkpoints and some houses, the ministry website quoted Sanaa’s director of security as saying. Two other devices were dismantled, the ministry added.
A medical source said eight people had been wounded and three of them were in a critical condition.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombs.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a Sunni Islamist militant group which regards Shi‘ites as heretics, has claimed two previous attacks in Sanaa in the past two months, including a car bomb last week that killed three people at the Iranian ambassador’s residence.
Yemen has been in political turmoil since 2011. Neighboring Saudi Arabia and Western powers fear the instability could pose a threat to oil supplies and facilitate al Qaeda’s ability to attack Western interests.
AQAP, formed in 2006 by the merger of the Yemeni and Saudi branches of the network, has for years been seen by Washington as one of the movement’s most dangerous branches. Washington has used drones in Yemen to target the militants.
Two Western hostages were among at least 11 people killed during a failed mission by U.S.-led forces to rescue them at the weekend in Shabwa province, a militant stronghold in southern Yemen. Several members of AQAP were also killed.
Western governments fear the advances made by Shi‘ite Houthi fighters have bolstered support among Yemeni Sunnis for AQAP.
Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari; Writing By Maha El Dahan; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Gareth Jones