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Suicide bombers target mosques in Yemen

In Yemen's capital city Sanaa, four bombings rocked two crowded mosques during Friday prayers. At least 137 people were killed, according to a report. The mosques are controlled by Shiite “Houthi” rebels who stormed the capital last fall and control a growing swath of the country. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, which drew a skeptical response from Washington. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    This was a day of terror in the capital of Yemen. Rebel TV in the city reports at least 137 people died, and some 350 were wounded in a wave of bombings. A stunned witness said blood was running like a river.

    It was the deadliest attack in decades in a country torn by strife. Four bombings rocked two crowded mosques during Friday prayers. Amid the carnage, men frantically tended to the wounded, blood and debris littered the street, and witnesses tried to make sense of what happened.

  • ABDULLAH ALDANANI (through interpreter):

    We were in the mosque during the sermon. We first heard an explosion outside, near the security perimeter. When the first explosion happened, they used the chaos to enter the mosque in the middle of prayer and blow us up from inside the building.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Both mosques are controlled by Shiite Houthi rebels, who stormed the capital last fall and are said to have Iran's backing. The rebels control a growing swathe of Northern Yemen, and have extended their reach westward. They have battled the Sunni-dominated al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which holds sway in much of central Yemen.

    Adding to the chaos, the Islamic State group, also Sunni, claimed today's bombings, and warned of a flood of attacks to oust the Houthis. That drew a skeptical response in Washington.

  • JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:

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

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The U.S. has struggled to maintain any influence in Yemen through President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He was chased from the capital and his loyalists are now fighting to hold a power base in the south.

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