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Militants attack hospital at Yemen's Defense Ministry, killing 52

From Hakim Almasmari, for CNN
updated 7:25 AM EST, Mon December 16, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Defense Ministry attack kills 52 people, including a relative of Yemen's president
  • Attack targeted hospital at defense complex, Yemen state media reports
  • Militants drove an explosive-laden vehicle into the building
  • Gunmen then battled security forces inside

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Militants staged a deadly attack on Yemen's Defense Ministry on Thursday, ramming the building with an explosives-laden vehicle, followed by gunmen who battled security forces inside.

The attack targeted a hospital at the Defense Ministry complex, Yemen's state-run Saba news agency reported.

At least 52 people died in the attack in the capital, Sanaa, according to the government. A Defense Ministry official said four foreign doctors were among the dead. Also, a relative of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi died in the attack, the government said. It did not name the relative.

Earlier, Defense Ministry officials had said 10 soldiers and nine militants were among the dead.

Gunmen shoot down Russian military contractors in Yemen

It took several hours for security forces to regain control of the building after the 9 a.m. attack.

No group immediately claimed responsibility.

The U.S. State Department condemned the attack.

Yemen is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, believed by many analysts to be the most dangerous affiliate of the terror network. The impoverished Middle Eastern nation also faces a growing separatist movement in the south and is frequently wracked by violence.

Yemeni lawmaker killed, UN envoy reportedly fired upon in separate attacks

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