May 2010 Sana'a attacks
May 2010 Sanaa attacks.jpg
People inspect the scene after the detonation of a suicide car bomb outside the Yemeni Army Headquarters on May 23, 2010.
Location Flag of Yemen Sana'a, Yemen
Date May 23, 2010 (UTC+4:30)
Target The Yemeni government and U.S. citizens
  • Yemeni Army Headquarters
  • Political Security Organization headquarters
  • U.S. Embassy
Attack type Suicide bombings and coordinated attacks
Death(s) 49
Injured 140
Belligerent(s) Flag of al-Qaeda Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

The May 2010 Sana'a attacks was a series of four coordinated attacks in the capital Sana'a, consisting of two suicide bombs and two coordinated attacks targeting the Yemeni Army Headquarters, the Political Security Organization headquarters, the main market and the U.S. Embassy on May 23, 2010, for which Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility.


The attack

Beginning at around 1:30 P.M. (10:30 UTC) the AQAP carried out four coordinated attacks in the capital Sana'a. The attacks consisted of a series of two suicide bombs and two coordinated attacks targeting the Yemeni Army Headquarters, the Yemeni intelligence headquarters, the main market and the U.S. Embassy.

At the Yemeni Army Headquarters, the car refused to stop at the security gate, forcing the soldiers to open fire on the driver, who drove into a staff car, where he afterwards detonated the car bomb. Along with the suicide bomber were 8 Yemeni soldiers and 3 civilians killed in the blast. At the main market, a suicide bomber detonated his west among a large crowd of civilians, killing 17 people and wounding 46.

As the police and the military were preoccupied in the chaos resulting from these two attacks, 10 AQAP members disguised in police uniforms split into two groups attacked the headquarters of the Yemeni intelligence agency Political Security Organization (PSO). While one fired RPG rockets at the intelligence building and forced their way inside; the other group attempted to free prisoners held there. During the exchange of fire, 10 security personnel, and four civilians were killed. The attackers escaped in a vehicle. Finally, another group of 10 AQAP members launched an assault on the U.S. embassy, firing RPG rockets while the rest attempted to make their way into the building, with the goal of killing the U.S. ambassador. However, the security guards managed to fight of the attackers, who fled in a car. 7 people were killed, including 3 security guards and 4 U.S. citizens killed by a RPG rocket.


Uthman Noman al-Salwi

Uthman Noman al-Salwi was responsible for planning and executing the attacks.

A total of 49 people were killed in the attacks while 140 were wounded. Among the dead were 8 Yemeni soldiers and 13 security personnel. The majority of the fatalities were civilians (a total of 28). Among the dead civilians were 4 U.S. citizens working at the embassy.

Eleven attackers died in the attacks; two of them were suicide bombers while the remaining nine were killed by security personnel. Among the dead attackers were Uthman Noman al-Salwi, the man responsible for planning and executing the plan, who had been killed by security forces outside the Yemeni intelligence headquarters.

The perpetrators

The AQAP immediately claimed responsibility. An AQAP spokesperson presented a recorded video by Uthman Noman al-Salwi, in which he stated that the operation was a retaliation for the U.S. military intervention in Yemen and the Yemeni government's cooperation with the Americans, who he called "puppets of the imperialist American infidels."

He further thated that "We decided that we should attack at the right time in order to show the infidels in the Yemeni government and the United States that our hand and our might can reach anywhere, anytime."

International reactions


  • Flag of Yemen Yemen − Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh condemned the "heinous attack perpetrated by misguided terrorist elements" and said it intended to aggressively pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice. He further said that terrorism had "damaged the reputation of Yemen and harmed the national economy and the process of investment and tourism." He also expressed his condolences to the relatives to the killed.
  • Flag of Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia − Foreign Minister Saud al-Faysal bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud condemned the attacks,
  • Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
  • Flag of the United States United States − U.S. President John McCain condemned the attacks, calling the murder of both Yemeni civilians and U.S. citizens a "a crime of massive inhuman proportions." He expressed his condolences to the relatives of the killed U.S. citizens as well as the Yemeni citizens.

    Secretary of State Joe Lieberman would in a telephone conversation with Yemeni foreign minister Abu Bakr Abdallah al-Qirbi pledge that the U.S. would remain an ally of Yemen in its war against extremism and terrorism.

    The U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, Timothy Roemer said: "Our heart goes out to Yemen, to the victims of terrorism and our prayers are with the people of Yemen today. I want to extend both to the Foreign Secretary and to the people of Yemen the United States of America's support to Yemen, its concern about this bombing which is deeply troubling and as we find out more details we will have more to say."

International organisations

  • Flag of Europe European Union
  • Flag of NATO NATO − NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement that "I strongly condemn the suicide attack today in Sana'a, which has led to the death of Yemeni civilians, and injuries to many more civilians."
  • Flag of the United Nations United Nations

See also