Yemen: 25 killed in 2 mosque attacks in capital

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SANAA, Yemen (CNN) — Explosions in Yemen’s capital rocked two mosques serving a minority Muslim group that recently conquered the city, killing at least 25 people and seriously injuring dozens of others, medics said.

The blasts happened at Al Badr Mosque and Al Hashoosh Mosque in Sanaa, both of which serve members of the Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam — the sect followed by the Houthi rebels who recently took control of the capital and forced President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to flee.

The injured include senior Houthi politicians and religious leaders, the medics said.

Details about what caused the explosions weren’t immediately available.

The explosions came during a week in which deadly fighting between Houthi-controlled forces have battled military units still loyal to Hadi in the port city of Aden, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) southeast of Sanaa.

Houthis, who have long felt marginalized in the majority Sunni Muslim country, entered Sanaa in September, demanding a greater share of political power. They took control over a period of months, seizing the presidential palace in January.

The Houthis hold sway in the nation’s north but have less influence elsewhere. They took control over military forces stationed near Sanaa, including the air force, as they overtook the government there in January.

Hadi initially was put under house arrest in Sanaa, but he escaped last month, fleeing to Aden and declaring himself to still be president.

The Houthis are opposed not only by Hadi loyalists, but also Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, the Sunni Muslim extremist group that exerts influence over many rural areas across the country. AQAP vowed to attack Houthi loyalists nationwide last year.

The Houthi takeover of Sanaa stunned governments of Western nations, including the United States, which had a long relationship with Yemen’s leader, working with the regime to target AQAP militants. The United States, along with most European and Persian Gulf countries, suspended operations in their embassies this year after the Houthis took Sanaa.

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