Mohammed al Qadhi
SANA'A // Seventeen people were killed and five wounded in a suicide attack yesterday on a group of Shiite Houthis heading to a religious celebration in Yemen, a spokesman for the group said.
A vehicle laden with explosives drove into a car carrying the Houthis, including Hussein Hadhban, the founder of the group, in al Jawf in the north, a spokesman, Mohammed Abdulsalam, said.
The victims were on their way to a celebration known as al Ghadeer, the day on which Shiites commemorate the appointment of Ali, one of the key figures of their faith, as successor to the Prophet Mohammed.
"People were gathering to move ... and a booby-trapped car stopped the procession, ramming into another vehicle and exploded," Mr Abdulsalam said. He blamed US and Israeli intelligence agencies for the attack.
Tribal sources did not dismiss the possibility that al Qa'eda may be responsible. Yemen's top security committee said the attack "targets the security and stability of innocent people".
The Houthis have been fighting against the government since 2004 and reached a truce in February. The government accuses the rebels of instigating sectarian strife in an attempt to restore the Zaidi imamate, overthrown in a 1962 revolution. The Houthis complain of socioeconomic and religious discrimination.