Massacred as they prayed at two mosques: ISIS claim responsibility for devastating suicide bomb attack in Yemen, killing at least 137 and wounding hundreds more

  • WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Four bombers launch two attacks
  • Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques in Sanaa targeted during midday prayers
  • A further 351 people have been wounded, medical officials reported
  • Islamic State claimed responsibility and said it was a 'blessed operation'

Multiple suicide bombings on two mosques in Yemen's capital today have left hundreds killed or injured. 

Four bombers wearing explosive belts targeted the Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques in Sanaa during midday prayers in what was one of the country's deadliest ever jihadist attacks.

At least 137 are dead and a further 351 people are thought to have been wounded in the devastating blasts, described by eyewitnesses as being like earthquakes.

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A suicide bomb attack on two mosques in Sanaa, Yemen, has killed 137 people. Worshippers rushed to carry injured men covered in blood from the building

A suicide bomb attack on two mosques in Sanaa, Yemen, has killed 137 people. Worshippers rushed to carry injured men covered in blood from the building

The mosques are mainly used by supporters of the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group as well as Sunni worshippers. Above, bodies were covered in blankets after the blast

The mosques are mainly used by supporters of the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group as well as Sunni worshippers. Above, bodies were covered in blankets after the blast

A group of men carry the body of a victim killed in the attacks using rugs from the mosque's floor

A group of men carry the body of a victim killed in the attacks using rugs from the mosque's floor

Injured people are carried on to a truck to be taken to hospital. Around 351 people are thought to be injured, medical officials reported

Injured people are carried on to a truck to be taken to hospital. Around 351 people are thought to be injured, medical officials reported

A group claiming to be the Yemeni branch of Islamic State immediately said they were responsible for the bombings.

Charred bodies and pools of blood were seen at the scene of the explosions while footage from the al-Hashoosh mosque, showed screaming volunteers using bloodied blankets to carry away victims. 

At the Badr mosque at least 25 bloody bodies were seen lying in the street and inside the building.

The mosques are mainly used by supporters of the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group as well as Sunni worshippers. 

The group posted an online statement saying that five suicide bombers carried out what it described as a 'blessed operation' against the 'dens of the Shiites'. It also warned of an 'upcoming flood' of attacks against the rebels

The claim offered no proof of their role - but it was posted on the same website that the Islamic State affiliate in Libya claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack on a museum in Tunisia.

The first bomber was caught by militia guards searching worshippers at the entrance of the Badr mosque.

Injured worshippers are helped to their feet in the aftermath of one of the devastating explosions 

Injured worshippers are helped to their feet in the aftermath of one of the devastating explosions 

A Houthi militant runs from a mosque where a suicide bomber blew himself up in Sanaa

A Houthi militant runs from a mosque where a suicide bomber blew himself up in Sanaa

Men inspect the charred remains of the interior of the Al-Hashoush Mosque after the suicide bomb attack

Men inspect the charred remains of the interior of the Al-Hashoush Mosque after the suicide bomb attack

One eyewitness reported that 'blood was running like a river' at the scene of the blasts on Friday

One eyewitness reported that 'blood was running like a river' at the scene of the blasts on Friday

Bodies were covered in blankets after suicide bombers attacked during midday prayers in Sanaa

Bodies were covered in blankets after suicide bombers attacked during midday prayers in Sanaa

Medics use a stretcher to carry a body from the scene of one of the devastating bomb blasts

Medics use a stretcher to carry a body from the scene of one of the devastating bomb blasts

He detonated his device at the outside gates while a second bomber entered the mosque and blew himself up amid the crowds, according to the official news agency SABA.

One witness from the attack at al-Hashoosh said he was thrown two metres by one of the blasts.

TORN BY A POWER STRUGGLE

Yemen is torn by a power struggle between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the north and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Hadi has set up a rival power base in the south backed by Sunni-led Gulf Arab states.

The mosques in Sanaa are known to be used mainly by supporters of the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group, which controls most of northern Yemen.

The rise to power of the Houthis since September last year has deepened divisions in Yemen's complex web of political and religious allegiances. 

Mohammed al-Ansi said: 'The heads, legs and arms of the dead people were scattered on the floor of the mosque.

'Blood was running like a river.'

Another witness added: 'I was going to pray at the mosque then I heard the first explosion, and a second later I heard another one.'

Hospitals were urging citizens to donate blood, the Yemeni rebel-owned Al-Masirah TV channel said. 

It also reported that a fifth suicide bomb attack on another mosque was foiled in the northern city of Saada, a Houthi stronghold. 

A prominent Shiite cleric, al-Murtada al-Mansouri, and two senior Houthi leaders were among the dead, the TV channel reported.

Survivors compared the explosions to an earthquake and said some people were injured by shattered glass falling from the mosque's large hanging chandeliers.

The television channel aired footage from inside the al-Hashoosh mosque, where screaming volunteers were using blankets to carry away victims. 

The bodies of victims of the double suicide attack fill a hallway at a hospital in Sanaía and are covered in blue material

The bodies of victims of the double suicide attack fill a hallway at a hospital in Sanaía and are covered in blue material

A young girl with blood on her head is carried out from one of the mosques after four suicide bombers attacked them during midday prayers

A young girl with blood on her head is carried out from one of the mosques after four suicide bombers attacked them during midday prayers

A man looks at the burnt out shell of a grey car, which was parked outside one of the mosques when the suicide attack occurred

A man looks at the burnt out shell of a grey car, which was parked outside one of the mosques when the suicide attack occurred

A Yemeni man inspects the damage following one of the explosions. Glass and debris can be seen all over the floor but prayer books remain on the shelves

A Yemeni man inspects the damage following one of the explosions. Glass and debris can be seen all over the floor but prayer books remain on the shelves

Falling glass from windows and chandeliers led to a lot of people who had been uninjured by the bombs needing treatment

Falling glass from windows and chandeliers led to a lot of people who had been uninjured by the bombs needing treatment

Survivors compared the explosions to an earthquake and said some people were injured by shattered glass falling from the mosque's large hanging chandeliers
Survivors compared the explosions to an earthquake and said some people were injured by shattered glass falling from the mosque's large hanging chandeliers

Survivors compared the explosions to an earthquake and said some people were injured by shattered glass falling from the mosque's large hanging chandeliers

Corpses were lined up on the mosque floor and carried away in pick-up trucks.

The attacks come just two days after 23 people were killed when gunmen opened fire on tourists at a museum in Tunisia.  

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. had seen no indications of an operational link between the Islamic State group and Friday's attacks. 

He said the U.S. was investigating to see whether the IS branch in Yemen has the command-and-control structure in place to substantiate its claim of responsibility.

Earnest said it was plausible that IS was falsely claiming responsibility for the incident. 

'It does appear that these kinds of claims are often made for a perception that it benefits their propaganda efforts,' Earnest said.

Devastation: Houthi rebels survey the scene where a car was completely destroyed by one of the bomb blasts

Devastation: Houthi rebels survey the scene where a car was completely destroyed by one of the bomb blasts

Emergency: Injured people are loaded on to a truck before being rushed to hospital following the blasts

Emergency: Injured people are loaded on to a truck before being rushed to hospital following the blasts

Medical assistance: Yemeni emergency personnel  carry a body on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance 

Medical assistance: Yemeni emergency personnel carry a body on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance 

A number of young children were also hurt after the quadruple suicide bombing in Yemen's capital

A number of young children were also hurt after the quadruple suicide bombing in Yemen's capital

A man crouches down with a video camera inside one of the mosques as he surveys the scene of a blast

A man crouches down with a video camera inside one of the mosques as he surveys the scene of a blast

Wreckage: A burned out car could be seen near the scene of one of the blasts outside the Al-Hashoush Mosque

Wreckage: A burned out car could be seen near the scene of one of the blasts outside the Al-Hashoush Mosque

A crime-scene investigator examines the ground following the bomb blasts in Sanaa. It was one of the country's deadliest ever jihadist attacks

A crime-scene investigator examines the ground following the bomb blasts in Sanaa. It was one of the country's deadliest ever jihadist attacks


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