Story highlights

The death toll from the blast is now 23, with 48 wounded, Interior Ministry says

The explosion targeted a Houthi gathering in Ibb province

Ibb's governor survived the blast and fled, unharmed

Houthis have taken control of Yemen's capital and won territory from al Qaeda fighters

(CNN) —  

A huge explosion killed at least 23 people and wounded 48 others during a Houthi gathering in the central Yemeni province of Ibb on Wednesday, Yemen’s Interior Ministry said.

The explosion took place in the local cultural center, where the Houthis were preparing for the celebration of the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, which will take place Saturday.

The governor of Ibb was present at the location of the attack but fled unharmed. The injured were taken to Al Thawra and Al Manar hospitals.

Police officials said the number killed had risen from an earlier tally of 16 after several of the critically injured died from their wounds.

According to one security official, a suicide bomber carried out the attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Local security officials told CNN the attack had the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

Yemen in midst of an upheaval

Houthis follow the Zaidi sect of Islam and are considered Shiites by al Qaeda, a Sunni extremist group. There has been a series of recent attacks on Houthi targets across the country.

The Houthis swept to power in Yemen after signing a ceasefire deal with the government in September, ending a political crisis that had halted life in the capital, Sanaa, and left more than 300 dead in a month.

Its members have since installed themselves in key positions in the government and financial institutions.

One month after signing the ceasefire deal, Houthis took control of large areas of the Sunni-dominated Ibb province, following weeks of clashes with militants. Dozens of fighters from both sides were killed in the fighting.

CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.