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Yemen cancels army parade after troops massacred

world Updated: May 22, 2012 12:27 IST

Yemen's military has cancelled a parade planned for Tuesday to mark the reunification of the country after nearly 100 soldiers were killed in a massive suicide attack claimed by Al-Qaeda, an official said.

Instead, a "symbolic" ceremony will be held at the Defence and Aviation college in Sanaa, attended by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi who after Monday's deadly blast vowed to fight "terrorism regardless of the sacrifices."

As soldiers rehearsed for the parade on Monday, a soldier detonated explosives hidden under his uniform in the middle of a battalion, killing at least 96 troops and wounding about 300.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the name given to the group's Yemen branch, claimed responsibility for the attack which it said targeted "the defence minister and other leaders of the US war on our people in Abyan" province in the south.

Monday's attack came 10 days into an all-out offensive against the jihadists in towns and cities in Yemen's restive south that Al-Qaeda has held since May of last year.

The offensive in Abyan has left some 234 people dead, according to a tally compiled by AFP, including 158 Al-Qaeda fighters, 41 military personnel, 18 local militiamen and 17 civilians.

The attack was the largest against Yemeni troops in the capital since Hadi assumed power in February.

US President Barak Obama said the United States was very worried about the threat posed by Al-Qaeda's affiliates in Yemen and pledged to work with the Yemeni government to crack down on the extremists whom Washington blames for several attempts to blow up US airliners and cargo planes.