SANA, Yemen -- A suicide bomber targeting soldiers rehearsing for a military parade killed as many as 96 people Monday in a sign that Islamic militants are taking their fight to the capital after intense battles in the provinces with U.S.-backed government forces in recent weeks.
The blast appeared to mark a shift in tactics by an Al Qaeda-linked group that for months had been concentrating on towns in the south. It indicated that militants, who have been unnerved by increased U.S. military and drone strikes, are expanding north in a campaign to upend the fragile government of President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
The attack came as Yemeni officials told the Associated Press that militants on Sunday fired on a car carrying three U.S. Coast Guard instructors in the Red Sea port of Hodeida. One American was wounded. Washington has stepped up U.S. military involvement in this troubled Arab nation, including sending a contingent of at least 20 special operations soldiers that provides satellite images and intelligence for strikes against extremists.
The bombing in Sana was the bloodiest in the capital in months. Officials say the assailant was dressed in a military uniform and detonated a concealed bomb while soldiers were practicing for a National Day parade scheduled for Tuesday. Media reports said that as many as 300 people were wounded and that bodies were scattered across Al Sabin Square.